Thursday, June 22, 2017

Zoo

I went to the zoo with a friend yesterday. This is the big zoo, the Minnesota Zoo. We saw bears, otters, takin, Bactrian camels, a Siberian tiger in a pool, kangaroos, wallabys, an Amur leopard, caribou, a sleeping dhole, sharks, moon jellyfish, seahorses... All in all, satisfying. I also rode on the carousel and had a root beer float. I feel about ten years old.

It has been a long time since I have seen so many blond mothers and children. Aside from needing a car and time off, you need a bucket full of money to go to the Minnesota Zoo. (An adult is $18. A kid is $12.)

On the other hand, the Como Park Zoo and the awesome Conservatory are free and can be reached by bus. And Como has a lovely restored carousel.

A poem about Como Zoo, since I was talking about zoos. Zoos and operas lead me to write poetry.

A Visit to Como Zoo and Japanese Garden
Three silverback gorillas
knuckling in the sun,
two feather-duster ostriches,
too hot to run,
picking grass along a fence,
while giraffes with shambling elegance
perform a kind of mating dance.

Bears and monkeys! Maybe cranes,
though not in view. ( The sign remains.)
A deep, green garden,
a silent pond,
shining koi,
and so we end.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Wiscon

I did one panel at Wiscon this year: an introduction to the history of feminist SFF. One of the other panelists said SFF feminism in the 1970s was like race now, when white people are learning to care about the problems people of color face. I said, No. Feminism in the 1970s was a fight. For the most part, the men in fandom -- along with some women -- resisted, ignored, mocked... Wiscon was created because almost all SFF cons ignored women's issues. The Tiptree Award was created because all existing SFF awards were named after men and women rarely won them.

I am not sure what the speaker meant. I heard the comment as saying that women didn't have to fight in the 1970s, that it was men learning to care about women's issues that was important. At that point, I exploded.

(Among other things, I thought the comment gave an odd impression of current anti-racism struggles. But that is another topic.)

Later, a woman in the audience said we were talking about women feminist authors. What about the men feminist authors? I wondered, what the hell kind of question was that? Several people on the panel mentioned Delany and then some much more recent men as male feminist writers.

The thing that bothered me was a panel on women and feminism was being pulled around to men.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

More Gender Noncomformity

My youth is a long way away, and I don't remember it entirely clearly. But I remember that I never wanted to be a housewife, a mother or anything that was allowed to women in those days: a secretary, a teacher or a nurse. I wanted to be a writer, a space cadet and someone who changed the world for the better. I didn't give into social pressure, because my mother and her sisters were backing me, and because I was so clueless -- so much in my own world -- that I didn't register social pressure. Yes, other kids were sometimes mean to me, but I didn't know why or what I could do about it. So I did nothing and kept being myself. I think I was probably an odd duck, but I managed to protect myself from the 1950s. I became a writer, but not a space cadet, though I write about space faring. I wanted to change the world in radical ways: to make it just and peaceful and kind. I didn't manage that. But I have written about societies that are juster and more peaceful and kinder than ours.

Gender Nonconformity

From the Wikipedia on gender nonconformity: "For women, adult gender non-conformity is often associated with lesbianism due to the limited identities women are faced with at adulthood. Notions of heterosexual womanhood often require a rejection of physically demanding activities, social submission to a male figure (husband or boyfriend), an interest in reproduction and homemaking, and an interest in making oneself look more attractive for men with appropriate clothing, make-up, hair styles and body shape. A rejection of any of these factors may lead to a woman being called a lesbian regardless of her actual sexual orientation..."

What is this crap? Never in my life have I met any of these criteria for a normal het woman. I thought these criteria went out in the 1960s.
Make yourself look attractive for men? I dress for myself and other women. Men don't notice. Well. some gay men do.

Social submission? Are you nuts? Homemaking? If you mean decor, yes, I do that. I learned it from my father. If you mean house cleaning, I do it, but I'm not interested. I'm kind of lazy, so I do avoid physically demanding activities, except weight lifting, kettle bells and TRX.

I know women who run races, who work demanding jobs, who do kettle bells and TRX. (Men have tried our TRX class, but they quit, because it's too hard.) Who dress to please themselves and possibly other women. Who may or may not be interested in reproduction. I would call all of these women normal. I figure the description of 'normal women' in the Wikipedia entry appies to members of weird Xian sects and to the sad young women who hang out in sports bars with their boy friends.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Fall 2

I saw the orthopedic doc. A nice guy.

My broken bone is a crack. It should heal itself. I should not wear the sling for more than 7-10 days. I can use the left hand and arm now. The sling is just for comfort and to alert other people, so they won't bump into me. Once the sling is off, I need to start stretching the injured arm to bring back full range of motion. I should stay away from heavy lifting for six weeks.

Friday, May 12, 2017

Fall

I had a nasty fall last week, which resulted in a broken bone in my left arm and a massive black eye, now beginning to turn other colors. We went to an urgent care unit and then to a local hospital, since the urgent care unit thought I needed a CT scan, since I had hit my head. (I also wrecked a lovely and expensive pair of glasses.) Anyway, I got scanned and xrayed and am now in a sling. I have an appointment with an orthopedic doctor this afternoon.

This happened when I was looking forward to attending to a wedding and going to the Wisconsin Science Fiction Convention. Also, I have writing to finish and an apartment to clean, and Patrick and I are due to move into a new apartment in our building this summer. Summer is pretty close.

My mood swings up and down. I was cheery in the ER. Today I feel okay. Yesterday, I decided I was old and fragile and heaven knew what complications there might be.

I never broken a bone before. I am really angry about it. I tripped on an uneven place in the sidewalk. What kind of klutz does that? I blame it on Trump. I was probably brooding over his behavior instead of watching where I was going.

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Mike Levy

Ruth Berman and I went to the memorial service for Mike Levy. It was in Menomonie, Wisconsin, a small college town about an hour and half from the Twin Cities. It was the kind of service I like: the minister spoke, but not a lot. Mostly, Mike's friends and relatives told their memories. I got a chance of speak with Mike's widow, Sandy Lindow, and his son Scott, also Kelly McCullough and Laura McCullough, good friends to Mike and Sandy. Everyone looked wiped out. I told Kelly he and Laura needed to get a cat. (They have lost two fairly recently.) He said that was the plan for next week.

I will repeat a story Mike's son Scott told. When Mike was in grad school, he was walking home one icy Minnesota-winter day, and he heard a kitten crying. He looked around and found the kitten on a heating grate. It had climbed on the grate to get warm. The hot air coming out the grate must have cooled temporarily, and the moisture on the grate had frozen, trapping the kitten. Its feet were actually frozen to the grate. Mike carefully chipped the kitten free and took it home. He named it Sarah Bernhardt and had Sarah for 20 years. Scott said it was the meanest, most miserable cat he had ever met.

After the service, refreshments were served in the church basement: Wisconsin cheese with crackers, fruit and little pastries. The coffee was classic church basement coffee: hot and weak.

Then Ruth and I headed back to the Twin Cities. We were both tired. I was exhausted.

Monday, April 17, 2017

Minicon Report

I went to Minicon late yesterday morning and stayed till 3:30 in the afternoon. Was on one panel -- about creating flawed heroes. Maybe because I was tired, I couldn't get engaged with the topic. Bought a pair of opal earrings from Elise Matthesen in the dealers' room. Got a ride home with Ruth Berman, took a nap, got up briefly and then went to bed for the night.

I did more thinking about the flaws in my heroes, trying to figure out if the panel could have been made better. Daisy's flaw in my story "Daisy" is she's an octopus. She can't drive a stick shift. She doesn't understand humans. She doesn't have a moral system. (Octopuses are solitary predators.) She needs to get to the ocean.

Loft, in the story I'm currently finishing for wizard anthology, has a flaw of being an utter jerk. But I'm basing my story on an Icelandic folktale, and he's a jerk in the folktale. So I didn't give him a flaw. He came with one. The problem in the story is to make him less of a jerk.

I said on the panel that I don't add flaws to my characters. The whole story -- the character, the setting, the problem -- seem to take shape together. How they take shape depends on what sets off the story. "Daisy" began with joking around on facebook. This led to the name Art Pancakes, which sounded like a good name for a gangster. I don't remember how the idea of a criminal bookkeeper octopus evolved, but it did -- and on facebook.

"Loft" began with an Icelandic folktale.

"Yu the Engineer," which is notes at the moment, comes from Chinese history. What is Yu's flaw? He is damn near flawless, though he's going to have a problem when he gets home from taming the Yellow River floods and has to confront a family he hasn't seen for 13 years. How pissed is his wife going to be? As with "Loft," I am beginning with an existing story. Then ideas leaf off it.