Posts Tagged ‘friends’

Will you try my sausage?

Tasty sausage

See who I had breakfast with this morning?

Scalzi was in town for a quick trip on his way to Viable Paradise. By happy chance, Diana Rowland was also visiting, to talk to her editor and agent. It was like a mini-con of fun!

Missing Portland and heading to NYC

I’m sitting at the very civilized PDX airport, waiting for my flight. ((Actually, the security is some of the most ridiculous in terms of number and length of lines, but once you’re past that there’s free wi-fi and outlets galore.))

The trip to Portland has made me a little melancholy, wishing we still lived here. I had breakfast with David Levine and Katy Yule yesterday morning at Milo’s, which is one of my favorite breakfast spots. In the afternoon, I hung out with -e- on her porch while she worked on a lamp and I edited stories.

I took a walk up 15th, past our house, and then down Alberta. I didn’t go into the house, but just seeing it from the outside made me a little homesick. BUT on Alberta, I ran into a couple of friends that I hadn’t managed to get in touch with. So that was lovely. I went over to their house and hung out for a bit before trotting down to have an early dinner with Sam Mowry and Cindy McGean. It was so good to see them.

From there, I went to Sue McBerry’s, my voice coach, and we just sat in her living room and chatted for not long enough.

I miss all of these people.

I’m on…vacation?

I just realized it last night. That I don’t actually have to meet any deadlines right now or do anything except sleep in and hang out with friends. I think this is what a vacation is, right?

Yesterday -e- and I went out to Sauvie’s Island, picked blueberries, ate a peach straight from the tree, picked flowers and then headed back into town. I had tea with Judy Straalsund, of Tapestry Theater and then went from there to the Fireside Room where I met up with a bunch of old writer buddies.

I got work done, but not in the way that feels like working. Stories that I wanted to edit, got edited. It was nice and relaxing.

In the evening, we headed over to the Barley Mill and it was lovely to catch up with old friends and meet new ones. Karen, Joyce, Carol, Aimee, Kai and Evan .

Today consists of hanging out with more friends.

Visited Powell’s yesterday

Me, signing the column at PowellsI took Sean Markey and Beth Wodzinski over to Powell’s before their flight out yesterday.

I love Powell’s, City of Books. It’s one of the major draws to Portland — not just that we’ve got a giant bookstore, but that we’ve got the sort of literate culture that requires the giant store. In the science-fiction and fantasy section, there’s this column, signed by SF & F authors who visit. Inspired by Cherie Priest’s visit, I wandered up to the SF desk and said, “Hi, I’m the Campbell Award winner for this year. Could I sign the column?”

My name on the Powells SF columnThis was cool because:
a) This is the first time I’ve introduced myself that way and it was sort of like playing dressup.
b) I didn’t have to explain anything else. His eyes sort of lit up, he congratulated me, and grabbed the key.
c) My name is on the column at Powell’s! Like I’m a real author and everything!

I know, it’s ridiculous that it has that effect on me, but holy cow! Do you know how many times I’ve looked at the names on there and marveled?

Sean was very accommodating and took photos for me. Look! You can see him in the reflection on the column.

Missing Iceland

After having Icelandic visitors for the last week, I’m missing the place even more. Daddi and Friða left last night, safely, and our apartment seems empty. As much as anything else, I miss the sound of the language when they would quickly chat with one another. I made a few abortive attempts to use my Icelandic, but have lost most of it. I can still cobble together a sentence, but I’m out of practice at listening to it. It’s starting to blur together into a wash of sound rather than discreet words.

I also miss the lack of bullshit with Icelanders. With an American you so often have to do a social dance to make plans. You know the one.

Host: “I could make muffins or we could go out to a diner for breakfast.”

Guest: “Whichever is easiest.”

Host: “They’re both easy. Which would you like?”

Guest: “Oh, I don’t want you to go to any trouble.”

etc, etc, etc… until it’s time for lunch and the whole thing starts again.

With an Icelander.

Host: “I could make muffins or we could go out to a diner for breakfast.”

Guest: “A diner sounds good.”

So, with that in mind, here’s the Daily Show and their documentary on the effort to get Iceland’s troops back in Iraq.

Earthquake in Iceland

A 6.1 earthquake hit Southern Iceland today. We’ve talked with some of our friends and everyone seems to be fine. Since Iceland is a geologically unstable island, they tend to be more architecturally prepared than we do. Even so, all the residents in Hveragerdi ((Hveragerdi has the hot river where we spent summer solstice.)) and Selfoss were told not to go back into their homes until authorities are sure that they are safe.

Our friend, Daddi, said that he was at the studio packing up for an expo here and that he and Hannis felt it, saw the lights shaking and headed outside. The quake lasted long enough that they got all the way outside before the tremors stopped. He also said that the weather is perfect today, so that most people are just pitching tents outside and planning on camping while things get sorted out. ((Given where they live, they don’t have to worry about trees falling on them.))

If you click through you can watch footage of the quake from different parts of the country, including parliament. Does business stop? No. I love the Icelandic spirit.

And I’m so grateful that everyone is okay.

Writing and storytelling

I had an interesting experience the other night as a writer or, more accurately, as a storyteller.

I had to pick up a prop two blocks from the Puppet Kitchen and thought I’d poke my head in to see what they were working on. A big group of my favorite people were there, making what has got to be one of the most gorgeous puppets I’ve seen.

Sometimes, when I’ve needed a break from sewing or basket-weaving or whatever tedious bit of puppet building I’m doing, I’ve read these guys a story. So Emily saw me and said, “Read us a story!”

“Err… I only have an unfinished one with me.”

The group gives a very gratifying chorus of “read it anyway.”

Now, I’ve read unfinished stories to Emily when I’ve been stuck so I could bounce ideas off of her but never one that stopped quite this close to the beginning. “I mean, really unfinished.”

“That’s okay.”

And I wanted to see if the opening works, so I pulled out my palm pilot and started reading:

Half-consciously, Kim put a hand up to cover her new nose ring. She knew it pissed her parents off no end that she could tolerate cold iron and they couldn’t, not like there was that much iron in a nose ring.

It still made her break out sometimes, but didn’t burn her like it did them. “Kimberly Anne Smith,” Mom’s voice caught her in the foyer as surely as if she’d been called by her true name. “I’ve been worried sick. Do you know what time it is?”

“11:49.” Kim dropped her hand and turned to face Mom, her Doc Martins making a satisfactory clomping sound on the hardwood floor. “I’m here. Home before midnight. No one with me.” As if she’d take the chance of her glamour dropping and showing her friends what she really was. A freak, like her parents.

I kept reading for another two thousand words and right as Kim was about to go into The Scary Place the story had been leading up to, I said, “And then… this is an unfinished story.”

I thought they were going to throw the puppet at me.

“I told you!”

“Yes! But what happens next?!?!”

I glanced at all the sharp instruments they had in their hands, decided that my life was in danger, and told them the rest of the story. My word-smithery went out the window pretty fast leaving me with voice to convey mood and then… the rest was all about the plot. What happened next.

I knew basically what I wanted to have happen, but I hadn’t worked out any of the details yet. Having a live audience listening to me as I found my way through the rest of the plot points showed me exactly which things were interesting and which weren’t. (The car chase is right out.) If they had a question, I could stop for exposition, (See, the Faerie Queen knew there was a traitor, she just didn’t know who) while making a mental note that I needed to plant that piece of information earlier when actually writing it.

When I got out of there, I sat down with the keyboard and the words fairly flew out of me. I still have a couple of thousand words to go, but I know exactly what happens next.

Hans Christian Andersen used to do this. As he was working on a new story, he would tell it to a live audience and then go write it down. I don’t think I’ll do this with every story, but telling this one to a group was a good reminder that writing was created to capture the spoken word. I might be a writer, but I do that because, really, I’m a story-teller.

Friends from Portland

Our friend -e- has come into town with her daughter -r-. I must say that eight year old -r- is all that is delightful in a child. She is charming, well-mannered and can amuse herself. I met them on Thursday at the Natural History museum which was, oddly, the first time I’d been in. Though I shouldn’t need to state it, whales are big.

After the museum, we wandered in Central Park for a while. The weather was unbelievable after a season of gray, winter blahs. Warm, with flowers blooming everywhere, it felt like Spring had truly arrived.

In the middle of the lake, a mass of turtles crowded on the only available rock to sun themselves. It was like watching New York’s housing crisis repeat in the animal kingdom.

Oscar night

We just got home from the Oscar party at Jodi and Sam’s. It’s an annual affair with them and quite the soirée. This year was a little odd for me. Somehow, I managed to miss seeing all but two of the films on the awards tonight. I saw Golden Compass and Sweeney Todd. That’s it.

As such, my only relevant reactions are going to be to dresses — no good standouts this year — and the best effects Oscar. Seriously? People thought the Golden Compass effects were better than Pirates of the Caribbean? That’s just crazy. I mean people have been doing talking animals more convincingly since Babe. I was seriously annoyed through most of Golden Compass because I just couldn’t believe the animals.

Childfree

Some time ago, Rob and I made the decision not to have children. I am blogging about it now because, having just had my thirty-ninth birthday, I was chided by people saying some variant on, “You’d better get busy.” Honestly, the pressure to have children from friends and family gets quite wearing. These are people who love me and think that they know what’s best for me. Presumably, they love me because they think that I’m an intelligent person, but they don’t seem willing to accept that yes, I have actually thought through all of this. I understand the consequences of this choice.

It took two years for us to reach this decision.

I’ll be honest, it wasn’t an easy one. I’ve never been a girl who has craved babies, though I went through a phase when I was fascinated by pregnancy. That said, I’ve always assumed that I would have children because I come from a very loving and extended family. Of course, it was only natural that I would contribute a branch to the family tree and pass on things. Some of them were ephemeral like Robinette, my middle name, and some were tangible, like my great-grandfather’s bedroom suite.

But when I spend time around friends’ children, even charming ones, there is always a sense of relief when I leave. Yes. I’ve heard that it’s different when they are your own. But what isn’t different is that your time no longer belongs to you. It’s not like having a cat or a dog; a child is forever.

So, coming into our marriage, I was ambivalent about having children. I thought I would want them later, but I didn’t want them then. Rob came into our marriage not wanting children. He was “adamant” that he did not want children, but said that his position might change. It seemed like opposite sides of the same place. We agreed to wait three to five years before discussing children any further.

Now, here is the only piece of misunderstanding in our communication. I took “I don’t want children” to mean, “I do not desire children,” while he meant, “I actively desire to be childless.” One is negotiable. The other is not. He, on the other hand, knew that I might change my mind and was willing to marry me anyway.

If you’ve been reading my journal for any length of time, you know how much I love my husband. He is, quite simply, the best thing that has ever happened to me. Given a choice between having children and having Rob, there was no choice. Sure, I could have insisted. We talked about different scenarios that would fulfill the urge I felt for children while preserving as much of his desire for a childless state as possible. We both knew, however, that these were fantasies. I was looking at taking a really solid marriage and putting a great deal of stress on it for a possibility. The thing with deciding to have kids is that you don’t know who you’ll get. It’s not like picking a pet out at the store; you may get a kid who is severely troubled or is perfect and wonderful. You just don’t know. It’s a gamble. For me, for us, that gamble wasn’t worth the risk.

There are so many children in the world already, too many for the planet to handle, that I think both partners have to want the child to justify bringing it into the world.

Are there things I will regret? Of course.

I will regret never knowing pregnancy. That I’m sure of. I’m afraid of being lonely when I’m old. I love my parents, and I’ll miss being on the other side of that relationship.

But at the end, weighing all the possible regrets and maybes, the thing I am most sure of is that I am not willing to give up Rob for a person who doesn’t exist. There are other reasons, just dealing with myself and a selfish desire to control my own lifestyle, but the big one is that I wasn’t willing to chance destroying something wonderful.

Most of the things I’m afraid of are things that are within my control. I am taking active steps now to develop connections with people in the next generation. I’m trying to become more involved in the life of my nieces and nephew. I’m finding other ways to leave a legacy besides my genes.

And here’s the big thing I want you to understand — I went through a rough period when we were making the choice, but once it was made… I really didn’t realize how much pressure I was putting on myself to procreate until it was gone. If you have a friend who is childless, don’t second guess them. Don’t assume that someone has to have kids to be happy. And please, please, don’t put pressure on them, even by implication.

You may not intend it, but it’s just mean. It’s hard to buck the social and biological pressure to have children. If someone makes that choice, do them the courtesy of accepting that it is the right choice for them. That’s all I ask. I’m happy. Those of you with children may think that I’m a fool, but I’m a happy fool.

Edited to add: I wanted to point out karindira’s very thoughtful post on the question of childless women from the side of motherhood.

Dinner with David Autrey

Our friend David Autrey, of Westrey Wine, was in town selling his wares for the past week. I had not realized exactly how much I missed the wine geek conversations that were so much a part of our life in Portland. David is what we call a serious techno-wine geek. He can not only tell you the flavor profile of what you are tasting, but also the chemicals that cause it as well as the conditions during the life of the grape that contribute to the various compounds. Besides all that, he majored in philosophy at Reed, so the conversation is always, always stimulating.

He stayed with us for two nights and took us out to dinner tonight at Jean-Georges. I think we all agreed that the food was well-crafted, but not inspiring. By that I mean that everything was exquisitely cooked, but that the recipes were uneven. We had a tuna tartare that was probably divine, if it weren’t over-sauced with Thai Ginger. Even so, it was a delightful meal. We had two wines that were exquisite — I’ll get the names from Rob tomorrow.

To Readers of Science Fiction and Fantasy everywhere

The editor at IGMS asked me to pass this along to you. I think highly of him, and he’s offering free fiction. How could I say no?

When you have something great, you want everyone to know. So you tell people about it. You share it. You pass it along to friends everywhere. Well, that’s what we’re doing with InterGalactic Medicine Show. We want to make sure everyone has had a chance to check out what we’re doing, so w’re offering up a sampling of our stories — for free.

During the month of February we are going to make one story from each of our first four issues available at no charge. Two stories will be set free on February 1st, and two more on February 15th. Just visit www.intergalacticmedicineshow.com and explore the table of contents; the free stories will be clearly marked.

Issue one’s free story will be “Trill and The Beanstalk” by Edmund R. Schubert, issue two’s will be “Yazoo Queen” by Orson Scott Card (from his Alvin Maker series), issue three’s “Xoco’s Fire” by Oliver Dale, and issue four’s “Tabloid Reporter To The Stars” by Eric James Stone. Each story is fully illustrated by artists who were commissioned to create artwork to accompany that tale — as is every story published in IGMS.

“Tabloid Reporter To The Stars” will also be featured in the upcoming InterGalactic Medicine Show anthology from Tor, which will be out this August (we wanted you to get a sneak peek of the anthology, too). However, the other three stories aren’t available anywhere except the online version of IGMS.

It’s really quite simple. Great stories. Custom illustrations. Free. We’re pleased with and proud of the magazine we’re publishing; now we’re passing it along to our friends and telling them about it. We hope you’ll enjoy it and do the same.

Edmund R. Schubert
Editor, Orson Scott Card’s InterGalactic Medicine Show
www.intergalacticmedicineshow.com

And for those of you who read Shades of Milk and Honey, most of the characters in the book got their names from friends. Edmund gave his first name to Mr. Dunkirk.