Hey, munchkins. So, I’m…

Hey, munchkins. So, I'm in the Bay Area, staying at David's, mostly happy. Missing Kev some. To be expected. For the curious, here's my tentative schedule for the next couple of months:

  • Now - June 23 - stay at David's in Oakland
  • -- June 21 - erotica reading at the Langston Arts Space in S.F.
  • June 24 - July 5 - stay at Jed's in Mountainview
  • July 5 - 8 - fly up to Westercon in Portland
  • July 8 - July 15 - take the train up and visit Kirsten in Seattle
  • -- July 13 - speak to Clarion students
  • July 16 - August 6 - hang out in Bay Area, not sure where yet
  • -- July 26 - birthday!
  • -- July 28 - read at Perverts Put Out
  • -- August 3-6 stop by MythCon in Berkeley
  • -- August 5 - CS party at Cafe du Nord in S.F.
  • August 7 - 14 - visit Lisette et. al. in L.A.
So that's the tentative schedule. Lots of it is subject to change; for example, I may squeeze the L.A. trip into the end of July, rather than mid-August. We'll see. But that'll give y'all an idea. If you want to get together for lunch, I'm free lots! :-)

Still about a hundred…

Still about a hundred rejections to go. Oof. But we progress.

In other news, "And Baby Makes Four" has been selected for Best Bi Erotica 2! :-) I'm especially pleased because a) I didn't hear about the first one in time, b) I love these characters, and am happy to publish something about them, and c) I wrote this story with this anthology in mind, and I was pretty sure that it was going to be something they'd like, so it's very satisfying to be right in that. :-) I think editing has given me a better sense of what editors look for. Interesting.

Dinner last night was lovely, though the potatoes were a bit overdone. But the lamb with tzatiki was yummy -- ditto feta and Greek bread and marinated olives and baklava. Could have used some salad -- next time.

A really charming market listing from David Kopaska-Merkel, one of the SH poets. Those of you with kids, listen up:

Children's market rises like the phoenix

About 9 years ago my then 9-year-old started a magazine called Kids' World. During the past year, she tried to get her now 9-year-old sister to take over so that it would not die (the founder is off to college in a couple of months). Lillian has not only agreed to take over the magazine, but is actually reading and responding to submissions. She'll be putting out a double issue in the next month, and I think it's safe to say that Kids' World is back after an approximately 6-month hiatus.

The magazine is a 16-page digest, but at least the next 2 issues will be doubles as we catch up. Morgan published 26 issues in 9 years. The magazine started out being published twice a year but is now quarterly.

She is looking for writing BY CHILDREN (17 and younger) and wants stories, poems, and jokes. She also desperately needs art (black and white). Payment is one copy. Samples are $2.

I must emphasize that this is Lillian's project. I supply the money, and I'll be doing the typing until she learns how, but she does all the editing and all of the responding to submissions.

Right now, Lillian is overstocked on fiction and poetry, but has almost no art on hand.

Lillian Kopaska-Merkel
Kids' World
1300 Kicker Rd.
Tuscaloosa AL 35404

I’m afraid that until…

I'm afraid that until I'm done with these rejection letters, journal entries are going to be light and sporadic, as I try to save my hands. It's not actually typing that's the problem -- I have to do a lot of clicking and trackpadding around various spreadsheets and that's what's putting strain on my right thumb and the tendons of my forefinger and middle finger. But I figure lots of typing will still aggravate this particular strain.

Mike Jasper kindly sent me some hand exercises which I'm now trying to remember to do before working. I pass them on to you in case any of you are having similar troubles:

A good stretch is to hold the fingers of one hand back toward your wrist for a ten-count, then reverse direction and pull the fingers toward the wrist for another ten-count. Repeat. Repeat. Do the other hand.

Then make a fist w/ the thumb on top of your fingers (not inside your fist). Twist the wrist all the way to the left for a ten-count, then do the opposite direction. Repeat and do other hand as well.

This last one's really good for the wrist. Make a fist again, but put the thumb on the INSIDE of the fist, so you're sort of pulling the thumb down with your fist. Angle your wrist toward the floor until you feel The Burn. Repeat and do other hand.

So there you are. In other news, Roshani and Tom and Zoe are coming to dinner tonight -- our first guests in the new condo. We're still lacking bookshelves (so there are stacks of books everywhere), a sofa in the tv room (so no movie after dinner), a comfy chair in the main room (we'll just pull over a dining table chair if needed there), coffee tables and end tables everywhere, and I'm sure other stuff that I'm not thinking of. But there's enough furniture to have guests, and if we waited until it was perfect then we would spend a lot less time with our friends -- bad trade-off, in my opinion.

I've sent off the maybe letters (except for a few authors whom I gave permission to submit late), so if you haven't received one yet, I'm afraid there's probably a rejection coming your way. I'm a little torn on whether to publish stats on how many of each there are -- I guess I would want to know, if I were an author. If you don't, just skip this part. So far, there are 81 maybe's. I've rejected 32 stories, with 134 rejection letters left to write. I'm trying to get them out as fast as I can, since I know what torture it is waiting for this kind of thing, but I'm also trying to rest my hands every hour. I don't want to just send form rejection, but I also can't afford to write new letters for each author. So I've made up a set of templates, and am mostly using those, with modifications as appropriate. I'm trying to give enough feedback that the authors at least have a sense of what I think they should do with the story (send it to another erotica market, send it to a different genre market, make it more substantial before resubmitting, etc.) -- hopefully most authors will find that helpful, rather than annoying. Again, it's what I would want if I were on the other end of this process.

Anyway -- back to the slave mines. It was a lot more pleasant sending the maybe letters than the rejections, that's for sure.

This entry is for Tim,…

This entry is for Tim, who complained. :-)

It's been a very mellow day. Yesterday evening I started reading Robin McKinley's Spindle's End; I finished it this morning. It's a gorgeous retelling of the Sleeping Beauty story -- although it almost doesn't feel right to call it a retelling, because there are so many differences in this version. It's lyrical and funny and interesting and almost made me cry at one point -- although that was the point when she was slipping in a reference to Damar, the country where her The Hero and the Crown and The Blue Sword take place -- and those are two of my favorite books from childhood. The Hero and the Crown is definitely in my top ten children's books -- if you haven't read it, you should. It's suitable for almost all ages.

I could have felt guilty about not reading submissions, but didn't because my hand was killing me by yesterday evening -- shooting pains every ten minutes or so in the tendons below my second and third fingers, bad enough that they made it difficult to fall asleep. Kevin told me I wasn't allowed to use the computer for two days. I ignored him, but I did take most of today off -- I've only read ten stories so far, and I'm not going to stress about it if I don't finish them off by tomorrow. You have been warned. My current estimate is that I'll send out first-cut rejections on Monday. I'll probably send out a notice Tuesday to the rest of the authors, telling them they're still in the running. Then I'll do another round of winnowing, and then I'll send the top fifty or so on to the guys at Melcher for their opinions. That's when it'll get really slow.

Roshani came over around lunchtime and worked here until 5:30. Her mother-in-law was watching the baby, so Roshani managed to mostly not fret. We only goofed off a little bit; I mostly unpacked and put things away, with a little reading and artwork in there, while she studied medical stuff. I think it was nematodes for a good part of today -- nematodes and planaria. Fungi. That kind of thing.

I've started another collage, of "Stone and Wave". I'm pretty happy with it so far -- it has a heavy silver frame, a thick white mat, and translucent poetry on a translucent background. Comic sans font. It's looking very elegant and spare at the moment, and I think I'm going to try to keep that look. I need to know what the Japanese characters are for "love". Any ideas? I think I'm going to write them down the right side of the mat, in either silver or dark grey or black. I'm a little nervous about being able to do a nice job of it -- I'll either have to practice a lot on regular paper (which seems like the appropriate approach) or come up with some clever alternative (like cutting them out or some such -- which might be cool on silver paper, for example). I'm very tempted to find some small stones on the beach in Hyde Park and glue them to the bottom left, but Kevin's trying to talk me out of it; he seems to think it's better to keep all the elements behind glass, so the piece is less fragile. I think that takes some of the beauty out of it -- I really like having some of the elements exposed, personally. But I can understand why someone buying the art might prefer that it be protected. I'll have to think about it.

Left hand twinging a bit, so I'm going to go. Kevin'll be home in a couple minutes anyway, and we're going out for dinner tonight -- one of the nicer Greek restaurants, I think. Nummy. Hope y'all are having a good week -- and if you're not, take heart. It's almost over.

That enough of an entry for you, Tim?

Good morning, my dears. …

Good morning, my dears. Ouch. That's from my right hand, which has started acting up again. I've been off the computer so much the last month that I had entirely forgotten about the carpal tunnel / tendonitis / etc. stuff. But my hand is determined to remind me this morning. I take notes on the stories as I read, and that combined with intermittent web browsing is creating definite twinges. I need more breaks. No more putting the CD player on repeat.

I'm really bad at remembering to take breaks -- I get lost in the work and completely lose track of time. I have two tricks to make myself remember -- my computer is set to beep at me on the hour, which breaks my concentration. And I put on a CD when I start working, and then when I noticed it's stopped, I get up and walk around and do something else. Dishes. Laundry. Even just reading a book. I just finished another Tamora Pierce children's book, Page. I'm addicted to these things. Her first series is the best, I think -- they've got her really cranking them out now, and the later series don't feel as fresh and unusual. But I still enjoy her writing and characters.

So Roshani's child-care crisis has resolved itself -- her mother-in-law can stay another week. That let me ease up a little yesterday -- I stopped for the day with 89 stories left. The goal is to do half today, and half tomorrow. The current goal, anyway. :-) Kev and I need to go down to Hyde Park this afternoon -- I have to look up a story in the library, and he has some math stuff to do on campus. I'm looking forward to it, to be honest -- I'm getting to know this neighborhood, and the guys at the local grocery and local cafe know me already. Greektown is friendly, and interesting. But it's not Hyde Park -- it's not packed with memories of college. That may be a good thing in the long run, but right now, I want to go have samosas at the Reynolds Club, and a Himbeersaft float at the Medici. Soon.

I've been doing a lot of thinking about the future, off and on. The big decision to make is whether to move to Chicago or the Bay Area when I finish in Utah. It's not clear when I'll be making that decision for real -- I could theoretically leave Utah next May, but that's not necessarily the best idea. It's probably better for my academic work if I stay in town and in close contact with my professors. But it may be better for my sanity if I leave Utah, and that's not something I can answer right now. Ask me again in a year. But even if I can't make a final decision right now, it's good for me to think about where I'm going to be. Right now, Chicago is looking pretty good. I've been very happy here, this last month. I think I could be happy here for a long time.

Of course, it's not winter right now.

Hey, munchkins. Quiet…

Hey, munchkins. Quiet yesterday because I was reading stories, but I thought I'd check in this morning before diving back into it. Let me tell you, it's a little surreal reading thirty erotic stories in a row. I'm just glad I'm here in Chicago with Kevin, rather than alone in Salt Lake. Ahem.

Anyway, it's not going as swiftly as hoped, of course. I've read exactly a hundred stories so far -- there's 141 left in e-mail (plus some print mansucripts). I'm not even half done! If I'm going to finish these by Wednesday, then I really have to crank today and tomorrow. So if you love me, don't call. E-mail is fine -- I'll just ignore it. :-) Even finishing by Wednesday, I'm not going to start sending letters 'til next week because Roshani's having a child-care crisis, so I'm going to watch Zoe Thursday and Friday. I *might* get some work done, but with a seven-month-old, there are no guarantees... It's kind of amazing how easily they get bored.

I stopped work around 8-ish yesterday, and we watched a movie, A Clockwork Orange. I'm a little shocked that I've never seen it before. If you haven't, go, go now, and watch it. It's stunning. Beautiful and creepy and sad and funny and very surreal. I had a little trouble with the accents/language, but it's not absolutely necessary to catch every word. Next time.

We had originally planned to go back to Hyde Park to sleep, since the new bed doesn't arrive here 'til Wednesday morning. But I was feeling anxious about work, so I decided to stay here, on the little fold-out sleeper sofa. (More like a sleeper cushion, really). I expected Kevin would go back to Hyde Park so he could sleep properly, but he stayed here instead. We snuggled. We watched Mad About You. At one point, we had a tickle fight -- I think because he was contending that I had crossed over onto his side of the bed, and I was claiming (accurately!) that he had a) come over to my side, b) snuggled me, and then c) *pulled* me over to his side -- so that while I might have ended up on his side, it was clearly Not My Fault. He refused to concede this and started mocking me, so I had to tickle him. It was an absolute dire necessity. You see that, don't you? You understand, I know you do. That's why I love you best.

12:30. Three and a half hours later, fifteen stories read. I am not exactly racing along, am I?

I do stop periodically, about every seven or eight stories. I've done dishes, and cleared up a little, and gotten dressed, and just recently, gone around the corner to the little Greek grocery store. It has no freezer section, but it did have whole and ground cardamom, and ground coriander, at reasonable prices. I also bought soap with honey (almost went for the olive oil soap) and hot dogs, ketchup and buns. I was craving hot dogs for lunch. I have no idea why. They tend to make me feel a little ill unless I boil the hell out of them, but sometimes, my tastebuds override my stomach and good judgement. I kept feeling like I should buy something more foofy -- like some Greek bread, fresh-baked, with a selection of olives and imported kasseri cheese. Kevin would have liked that (he's still sleeping). But no, I went for the hot dogs. I'm such a weirdo sometimes...

I keep thinking about WisCon. It was a convention, like many conventions, and yet this year felt a little different. I think it was because I wasn't working quite so hard at the networking thing, and spent more time with friends. I got to know Jenn Reese and Susan Groppi a little better, and I really enjoyed that -- I think they're both so cool, in the gosh-I-want-to-hang-out-with-you-lots! kind of way. I still don't know either of them tremendously well -- for example, I was thinking I'd like to cook with them, but then realized that I don't know if they cook! But I could cook for them, at any rate, and I bet they'd be lovely dinner guests, full of interesting conversation. I think all this housewares-buying is really setting off my Martha Stewart urges -- I keep wanting to throw fabulous dinner parties, with tremendous food and lots of candles and wine. But of course, most of the people I'd want to invite are scattered around the country, in the Bay Area mostly, but also in Boston and New York and L.A. and Seattle and even North Carolina and Utah. Maybe in ten years we'll all be rich enough that we can just hop on a plane and fly over for dinner. That'd be nice, wouldn't it? That'd be swell.

My apologies if I’m…

My apologies if I'm neglecting mail from any of you. I'm trying to get through the first read of all the subs that have come in for BW (about 250 so far, with some more expected to trickle in). The tentative goal is to sort out the No's from the Maybe's by Wednesday, and send out rejections for that first cut by the end of the week. That may be hopelessly optimistic, though. We'll see.

So far, about one in three is making it into the Maybe pile -- I'm being pretty generous with the Maybe's for this first pass. Some of the immediate disqualifiers are things like:

  • no story: this is the most common problem -- people send me erotic scenes, with no conflict. You might be able to convince me that you've got a worthwhile story with no conflict, especially if you have a fabulous command of the language, but you're going to have to work pretty hard at it.

  • wrong genre: several sf or fantasy or horror stories have come in that may or may not have some sex in them, but which don't even attempt to be erotic -- no good for us.

  • nothing grabbed me: some of the stories are fine -- they have some plot tension, they're sexy...but nothing about them grabbed me, personally. Nothing struck me as really interesting, or innovative, or moving, or funny... This is the category that no writer can predict, honestly -- you can write a fine story, one that lots of other editors would like, but not get the editor you're aiming for. It happens.
Anyway, enough analyzing for now -- I should get back to it. We did take a break to go up and tell them they messed up the chairs (they agreed to fix it with no complaints, thank the gods -- we're not particularly good at confrontation). We also stopped and bought dish soap and flowers, cheerful yellow carnations. There's still junk all over the darn place, but little by little, it starts to feel more like a home.

I had to think a little…

I had to think a little about the date before figuring out what day it is. I lose track of time when I'm not in an academic calendar.

My days these days are a mix of packing stuff up at Kevin's, moving them over, deciding where things go, and shopping. Eating out and eating leftovers. Falling exhausted on the couch in the evening to watch a little tv. Reading lots of stories in between it all, because hanging shower curtains is more tiring than you would think.

I have to admit, all the shopping is fun. I'm not sure if it's a guy thing, but Kevin seems to not buy anything for five years, and then buy everything at once. That's totally the opposite of me -- I buy one little household thing every few weeks or so, so my home is slowly improving, mostly within my budget. I don't really understand how he can stand going years without buying anything, except an occasional book or meal. It's very odd. But it is rather nice being around for the spending blitz, and it certainly make it easier for us to choose things that we're both happy with (given the long-distance thing during the school year). Yesterday we bought a teakettle, a shower curtain, dark grey stoneware dishes, plum linen napkins, tea lights and six tiny frosted purple tealight holders, the stackable kind. The last three items were entirely at my instigation -- he would never have bothered. But he likes how pretty they look -- he does appreciate aesthetic stuff; he just doesn't spend nearly as much time thinking about pretty things as I do. The table looked really beautiful last night. Was good.

Today, bookshelves and sheer curtains for the living room, I think. He had these blinds in, but they're mostly broken, so we've been taking them down all morning (makes my arms tired!). We thought about just leaving the living room windows bare -- it would fit in with the sort of industrial look this place has. But I think it's nice to have the option of some privacy, and the ability to block some sunlight. It's been cool and grey and overcast in Chicago for the last couple of weeks -- I think he's forgotten that this room is going to get flooded with late afternoon sunlight.

I'll put up some pictures in a bit, when things are in quite so much disarray. We still have pieces of wood trim everywhere, and a huge tangle of metal blinds on the floor. When we're done, I think the place is going to look really nice. Comfortable to live in, too. That's important.

Hey, and speaking of beauty, I wanted to add something to what M'ris was saying about photos yesterday. I'd agree that mobility has a lot to do with whether or not people photograph well. But I think good photos have more to do with the way the photographer sees their subject. I'm not sure exactly how to explain that -- but an example are some photos of Kirsten that I have on my wall. When David saw them, he thought the woman in them was pretty (possibly very pretty -- I don't remember). And I think Kirstie is beautiful. But he was really startled to find out that they were pictures of Kirsten, because his memory of her is not of someone that he finds attractive. I think the photos catch a beautiful moment of hers, and I think it's much easier for me to take that kind of photo of her than it would be for him -- because when I look at her, I see beauty, and I have only to choose the particularly beautiful moments.

If that makes sense, then maybe you can follow me to the corollary. I think I take pretty good photos of people (I am sadly mediocre at landscapes and such). And I think it's because I tend to photograph people I love -- and those eyes of love make it easier for me to see their beauty. And to take it a step further, even when I'm taking photos of someone like Marissa's Tim, whom I barely know, I try to look at him the way someone who loves him might look at him. It's fairly easy for me to imagine loving almost anyone -- maybe because as a writer, I have to think about who might love whom, with my characters, all the time. Or maybe I'm a writer because I already think that way about people. I have no idea if I was poly first, and a writer second, or vice versa.

Whatever the sequence, and however strong or weak the connections, these things do all seem connected to me. Writing and love and photography and beauty and seeing clearly, with generous eyes.

The Bodies of Water call…

The Bodies of Water call closes tomorrow! This is your final reminder. :-)

I'm itching to dive into reading manuscripts, but I realized that it would be easier to manage if I waited until the bulk of them were in (I expect some to trickle in after the deadline). So I'm working on other things today, trying to clear as much as possible off my plate, so I can focus on them this weekend.

One of the projects I've been waiting to do is to put together a mailing list of SH authors (done!) and let them know that they can buy t-shirts and mugs at cost (done!) and let them know about our plans with Fictionwise (done!). I'm waiting for the blizzard of e-mails asking me for more details; I'll tell them as much as I can, but some of it's still up in the air, and I may just have to answer -- "I don't know that yet." I'm a little nervous that they won't be happy about this move to offer a downloadable version of SH (without paying them extra), but really, it's not a bad thing for them. Not as good as paying them more would be, of course, but that's just not in the budget. Hopefully, they won't be upset. Since the download will be free to the public (starting in September, hopefully), there's just no income to pass along to them. I hope they're okay with it, I really do. Fingers crossed.

It's a big SH day for me here -- I'm planning on doing checks and contracts today (though that depends a bit on when Kevin wakes up, 'cause I did promise to go bed shopping with him today). If you haven't stopped by this week, you really should -- we have a Chris Barzak story up, "Plenty", which is getting lots of praise, more than a story has gotten with us before. I suspect some of that is because Chris has lots of friends on the net. :-) But it's a good story, I like it. And I really like the Rachel Hartman article on women in medieval times; she does such good research, and makes it interesting and fun. She can even make being a nun sound (relatively) attractive... :-)

10:40. I'm not sure where the day went. Okay -- I didn't get up 'til 9. I worked 'til 1 p.m., around when I posted the earlier entry. Then Kevin got up and we went and bought a mattress and boxspring for the new condo, way off in the middle of nowhere at a mattress warehouse (like half the cost of a normal place, so I guess it was worth it -- these things are expensive). So then we went to the mall, 'cause Kevin's been owing me a ninth anniversary present for a while, and was nervous about buying it without me there. Jewelry, y'know. Guys are weird about jewelry. We hit a couple stores, and at Whitehall found a nice little sapphire pendant to go with the earrings he got me (also with me doing hand-holding) a few anniversaries ago. That was fun, and I am most contented with my present. It was *also* half-off. I like things that are half-off, especially when they're pretty. The pendant is prettier than the mattress. It's nice getting pretties, even if they are a month or so late. He was sweet enough that I forgave him for the lateness. Though I think he's more comfortable when he's buying me electronic gizmos instead of jewelled pretties. Which is fine with me -- I like those too, and I can't afford either. :-) I tend to buy him books. Or shirts. Though I got him a nice flannel robe last Christmas (which I've been wearing a lot, and it's most comfortable :-).

Then we went to the electronic stores, where I lusted over cameras fancier than mine (though I love my little Elph S100, I do I do -- I'd just *also* like to have her big brother, the one who's really endowed in the megapixel department, y'know? nudge nudge wink wink...). Kevin eventually bought a tv. Some kind of tv. He kept trying to make me give him advice, but frankly, all tv's pretty much look the same to me. My only concern was that the room he's going to put it in is pretty small, so I thought one of the flat ones would be cool. Then he gently explained that one of those would be at *least* quadruple the price of the ones we were looking at. Oh well. I think he got a Sony eventually.

Okay, so shopping took a little while, but not that long. By 4:30 we were back at the condo, unloading the tv. Oof. Very very very very very heavy. I wish I had more muscles. Well, not more, but bigger. We couldn't actually lift it out of the box, once we got it into the room -- we just tore the damn box down and slid the tv out. And y'know, there were tv's *much* bigger than the one he bought. They must use cranes to install them.

And then we had a nice Italian dinner -- too much food, most of which we brought home, and I had a glass of red wine. Mmm... I've mostly been making curries and we've been eating those, which is fine, but it's nice to eat someone else's cooking for a change. I had ravioli made with crushed walnuts, mascarpone cheese, sun-dried tomatoes, cream, and pear. Pear! Cool, huh? I was afraid it would be too sweet, but it was actually nicely balanced -- but much richer than I'm used to eating. I think I had four ravioli. Though all that bread I had earlier with olive oil and parmesan and roasted garlic (while we were waiting for Kev's risotto to be ready) might have had something to do with my full tummy.

And then we got home. And I checked e-mail. And watched tv. And checked e-mail. And watched tv. And checked e-mail. (You think I'm being silly, but really, that's what I did. Several more times. So did Kevin. His laptop is on a really long cord, that reaches to the couch.) And now it's almost eleven, and I did work for four hours this morning, but nonetheless, it feels like I lost a lot of the work-day. But I spent the rest of it with Kevin, doing domestic-type stuff. Making decisions together. Walking in the rain. Asking his advice about book stuff, not because he's likely to know more than I do, but because I like listening to him think. Laughing. Hauling furniture. Curling up on the couch. Which is not such a bad way to spend part of a day, when I think about it.

We've had a lot of wobbly bits; we're very different people in some ways, and we're both amazingly stubborn. It makes life...umm..."interesting" is probably too kind a word for this. But after nine years, there's still no one in the world I'd rather haul furniture with. If I'm being forced to haul furniture, that is.

Happy anniversary to us. :-)

That’s my friend…

That's my friend Carmela. I stayed with her the first night I arrived in Madison, before the convention started. It was the second time I'd seen her since our high school graduation, back in 1989 (we'd met up briefly in the Bay Area once). It was our first chance to really talk in twelve years. It was wonderful -- and I hadn't expected it to be.

When I first realized she lived in Madison (has for many years, as it turns out), I was a little hesitant about contacting her. Oh, I'd been sending her Christmas cards for years, but it had been a long time since we'd really talked. I wasn't sure she'd even want to hear from me. I couldn't remember if she had a partner, or was married, or even had kids. I used to keep in pretty good touch, but I've slipped a bit the last few years. And to be honest, in high school, we were sort of peripheral friends. We spent a lot of time together, but it was because we were both good friends with Lisette. Carmela and Lisette roomed together for two years of high school -- I was Lisette's day-student friend, who hung out 'til late at night (because it was more fun studying with Lisette than going home to work alone) in their room, so that Carmela was always tripping over me and my books. She was mostly very patient with me, though one time, she lost her temper. We got over it, though, and on the whole, we had a very friendly relationship. But we weren't really close friends. We didn't spend a lot of time confiding our hopes and dreams and fears. We just hung out.

She seemed happy to hear from me when I e-mailed, and we made plans for my staying two nights. As it turned out, various things kept me here one of those nights, so I ended up not going up until Thursday, and only staying the one night with her. I was a little relieved when I realized that would be the case -- what if we didn't get along? Two nights of awkwardness would be much worse than one.

And when I arrived, it was awkward. We had a late lunch at Buraka -- mediocre Ethiopian food, but I was so craving injera that I didn't care. I was upset to realize that not only had Carmela gotten married without my noticing, but that she had been to the wedding of Katy Jennings -- who had been another day student, and a closer friend of mine. I had really lost touch. I thought perhaps I'd received a note from Katy, or even an invitation, but I wasn't sure. As we talked, catching up on various old friends, fixing their new positions in our minds, I felt mostly sad, and disconnected.

I split off for a bit to do packet stuffing (SH flyers in the convention packets) and attend the opening reception. I got caught up in seeing old convention friends; I was having fun when Carmela called me to tell me she was ready to meet up again. I tried to be enthusiastic about meeting up with her again. I met her husband, Dan, at a cafe. He seemed very cool -- with jingly things on his jacket, and a plan to go practice juggling with his troupe. He managed a bookstore by day, and juggles by night. Very cool. That was a promising sign.

Then we went to her house, and it was then that I started really relaxing. They have a beautiful place -- a double lot with tons of garden, irises shooting up all over. They've redone much of the inside, and it's full of cozy nooks, warm throws, and many beautiful things. Dan, it turns out, makes gorgeous little art pieces out of metal (and sometimes bone). He has a studio in back. Carmela works in fabric -- she made her own wedding dress, a medieval-style in raw silk, and vests for the groomsmen. She does quilts, and works in lovely fabrics. And as the evening went on -- as we chatted, then went out for delicious Laotian food, then came home and chatted some more, until sometime in the wee hours, I realized that I liked her very much. That I would love to spend more time with her, that I felt like I'd discovered a kindred spirit, in this person I'd known for more than a dozen years. We talked about love and travel and children and careers, about hopes and dreams and fears. We made plans to see each other next year at WisCon, at the very least, and hopefully earlier. We talked about possibly even writing real letters. We're going to stay in touch. I'm not quite sure if I've made a new friend or rediscovered an old, but in either case, it's wonderful.