raven: white text on green and yellow background: "ten points from Gryffindor for destroying my soul" (sbp - destroying my soul)
So, Vidukon! I had a lovely time - spent my morning on Friday writing in Starbucks at Paddington; headed westwards in a train carriage with two hen parties and nine fangirls, it was great - and we got to Cardiff with far less incident than last year; Cardiff itself is lovely, it has bilingual signage and smells like the sea, which is all I ask from of a place; and we piled off the London train and ran straight into [profile] fray_adjacent, which was super. Vidukon is a lovely little con - emphasis on the little; I think I knew almost everyone at least by sight, or through having met them last year - and the atmosphere was way more collegiate than some other cons I've been to.

I didn't go to everything, but I went to most things. Some brief notes:

-My favourite vidshows were the Pride vidshow (because, once again, Vidukon is the same weekend as Pride); the Same Song, Different Source vidshow (because, wow, I am kind of vid-illiterate, but a show like that really helps - it helped me draw out parallels and interesting themes where maybe I wouldn't've been able to otherwise) and Constructed Realities, which was probably the most fun vidshow. My suggestion for that show was "Closer", and it was fun seeing that on the big screen; also one vid of mine appeared, "we were born in a summer storm", which was also nice to see; but my favourite favourite favourite times eleventy million thing about that vidshow was "Papa Don't Preach", in which Jack Harkness is keeping his baby. I'm so happy about that vid. So, so happy.

-So, having only begun vidding as a result of last year's Vidukon, it was a major kick and blessing for me to see my vids on screen! As above I had one in the constructed realities show, and "Landsailor" of course appeared in the Aims Vid Project show. I very much enjoyed being part of that project, especially as such a new vidder - "Landsailor" was the third vid I made - and getting to see them all on the screen one after another was part of the whole community building thing I think is so important in fandom generally. It was great. I also got to see "Unsteady Ground", the vid I learned how to vid to make, on the screen in the Vidders' Choice show, and that was amazing: I mean, really, really amazing. Even a year's worth of experience makes me think I'd do it slightly differently now, but nevertheless, that was the vid of my heart and it was so so nice to see people's reactions to it in real time. Aaaah.

-And, finally. Premieres. I didn't have a premiere myself - I thought until the last minute I was going to make a Queen Arachnia vid for the lulz, but it never worked out - but I knew [personal profile] cosmic_llin had one and I'd been hearing static about that vid since April. It's a vid, they all told me, very obliquely, that is relevant to your interests. [personal profile] silly_cleo wanted to sit next to me for it. It was all very intriguing.

The vid is "Long Live" (by [personal profile] cosmic_llin), no content notes, all of Star Trek. Long live the magic we made.

Go watch it. I'll still be here when you get back.


I think that it was out of consideration for my feelings that [personal profile] such_heights put it at the end of the show? When the lights came up I couldn't talk for a while. I just can't.

Actually, cribbing mostly from the comment I finally got myself to write on it (after the broken-hearted keening was over, natch), more on this )

I just... yes.

-I also made a vid myself and posted it during the con - not a premiere; I'm not that organised, though I did finally finish the vid on Saturday afternoon - and in case you missed it, here it is: we came to learn the sea, also about all of Star Trek! This has been the vid of my heart the last couple of months or so; like Long Live, it's a love song. A little sadder, as is my wont, but still.

-And though I had rather a miserable train journey home - drunks! smelly people! ticket shenanigans! - I had my laptop and a surplus of enthusiasm, so I vidded! I made 30 seconds of a vid, anyway. I have a lot of vid ideas at the moment - I'm still going to make an Arachnia vid at some point; I have a half-formed idea for a vid about sad robots - but the one that got made is this odd little creature, a vid about Star Trek, mind control and violence.

(As per, I have all the happiest fanwork ideas.)

Right. Work.
raven: Karen Gillan as Amy Pond, wearing green and red and looking up (Default)
Some fannish housekeeping! So today, in and around building flatpack furniture (The Great Flat Redecoration '14, don't even ask) I hung out on Tumblr and was fannish about silly Star Trek AUs, and it made me SO HAPPY. (Fandom and I have been kind of... on a break, recently, for Reasons.) But possibly there is hope for me yet! Hurray.

Anyway, so, I have just been alerted to the existence of Deep Dish Nine, a fluffy all-human Deep Space Nine AU where Sisko & co run a pizzeria. It is just as adorable as it sounds. And, totally delightfully, there is also Chez Entreprise, which the TNG crew run down the street, and over the road, the coffee shop run by Janeway and Seven called (what else?) Nebula Coffee.

So I wrote this piece of total fluff.

The Flaw In The Plan (571 words) by Raven
Fandom: Star Trek: Voyager, Star Trek: The Next Generation
Rating: General Audiences
Warnings: No Archive Warnings Apply
Relationships: Kathryn Janeway/Seven of Nine, Data/Geordi La Forge
Characters: Kathryn Janeway, Seven of Nine, Data, Geordi La Forge
Additional Tags: Deep Dish Nine, Alternate Universe, Fluff

"Huh. Next you're gonna tell me Swedish Fish aren't made of fish."

I am also writing another, longer, more serious story about Janeway and Seven, which is super fun, and contemplating whether anyone would read fic for The Oversight. (Probably not, is the answer to that.)

And finally! So there's a meme going round where you post your ten most important, most indentity-constitutive films, and I - well, I just. I am so bad at films, I don't have the attention span for them. So I had dinner with [personal profile] happydork quite recently and we spent a couple of hours playing the same game, for TV episodes. And here is my list, for completion, with a line of dialogue from each because I thought it would be fun:

"Sometimes You Hear The Bullet", M*A*S*H ("Rule number one: young men die.")
"The Measure of a Man", Star Trek: TNG ("Consider that in the history of many worlds, there have always been disposable people.")
"In The Cards", Star Trek: Deep Space Nine ("It's not my fault that your species decided to abandon currency-based economics in favour of some philosophy of self-enhancement.")
"The Fifth Race", Stargate SG-1 ("Right now I'm possibly his only hope for communicating on any kind of serious level. I can't leave him like this, and I won't.")
"Are You Being Served", Frasier ("My reasoning? My reasoning was based on my mother's obsession with VERMIN!")
"Win, Lose, or Draw", Parks and Recreation ("I never wrote it.")
"Mary Pat Shelby", Sports Night ("How much do you love me?")
"Take This Sabbath Day", The West Wing ("Shalom, Toby.")
"The Body", Buffy the Vampire Slayer ("I don't understand how this all happens!")
..and season 1 of Slings and Arrows. ("Why did you fuck me over?")

(Shh, I know that's not a single episode, but [personal profile] happydork's chosen episode of The Wire was... The Wire.)

That's my list! I should go to bed.
raven: Karen Gillan as Amy Pond, wearing green and red and looking up (Default)
So if you know my real name, you (may?) know I have a grown-up blog elsewhere. This is not, by the way, intended to imply that fannish/DW blogs in general are not grown-up - just that mine joyously, unrepentantly isn't. Anyway, thanks to a kind friend who sent me a review copy, I carried a heavy proof of Charlie Fletcher's The Oversight all the way to Seattle and back, and didn't actually get past the first chapter; then I got home and resolved to give it the good old try and read it far into the night and screwed myself where jet-lag is concerned, but again with the unrepentance because I loved it. I wanted to write it about somewhere that's easy to link to publicly, so there's a nice long chewy review on my other blog, but sadly, I have no one to flail about it to because it doesn't come out till the beginning of May. Not to reiterate the whole review here, but gothic, macabre, lady-driven (pirate ladies! magic-using ladies! ladies rescuing ladies!) fiction that is objectively good and also hits about a thousand of my fantasy kinks (mysterious other London, check! Mysterious society of guardians and watchers, check! People carrying their lost cause banners to the bitter end, check!) - aaaaah. I like it a lot. I like it a whole whole lot, and if you like the sort of things I like, it comes out very soon, please read it and come talk about it with me, I am a fandom of one.

Since I started writing for myself again, rather than just fannish writing, I've had more than a passing interest in science fiction fandom more generally, and while I don't want to put too much weight on it and things like in terms of what is good and what isn't, I am pleased Ancillary Justice got a best novel Hugo nomination and I do hope it wins. It's lady-driven SF that does interesting things with gender, and while it's not the very best thing I've ever read, or anything, I enjoyed it very much as a novel of ideas. I feel like I came to fandom in the first place to find women in SFF - creating, consuming, politicising - and I'm emerging a little after ten years and finding that women in "mainstream" SFF are much more of an organised force than they were. Mainstream is in quotation marks because respectability isn't majority. For one thing, why do we want to be respectable, as fannish fans - we are queer, we are brown, we are women, we are intentionally and politically disruptive - and someone told me recently that more people participate in [livejournal.com profile] yuletide than vote for the Hugos, which is the sort of statistic that lingers in your mind.

Urgh I'm not really sure where I'm going with this, I meant to just write, please read this book, you guys, it's great. Tomorrow I am spending an entire day in my house for the first time in several months, it's gonna be awesome.
raven: Karen Gillan as Amy Pond, wearing green and red and looking up (Default)
Notes on [livejournal.com profile] bitchinparty 2014:

-I started writing this in the departure gate in the Seattle airport, looking out over the tarmac. (Seattle-Tacoma international airport is a teeny tiny perfectly-formed little airport. If it hadn't been for the incipient weeping I would have got through security just fine.) I don't propose to tell you about it all: about everything that happened in a long weekend that was, at last assessment, at least eight weeks long. Here are some notes.

-I need to stop watching air crash documentaries as soothing background noise the week before two transatlantic trans-continental flights. It's a bad idea. Given that, I dozed off somewhere over Canada for a couple of hours, and woke to the disquieting realisation of how much Canada there was to go. There is a ton of Canada. I spent all my time in Seattle kind of always aware, peripherally, that it was a long way from home. (On Saturday afternoon, in between con panels, I went for a walk, kind of a leisurely amble, across sweeping intersections below rising hills, and felt, you know, pretty okay; the Pacific Northwest is billed to me always as just like home in terms of weather, which it is, but right now taking a loan against June. I guess what I'm saying really ineptly is that my world is small: it's human-sized. I shuttle from my little two-bed flat through Cambridge streets to the train and the Tube and Camden Market, up through the little stalls and alleyways and into my office and back again, and what I like about America is that things take up grand space. Everything seems bigger. But I lived there, too, and it was nice to be back.)

-I enjoyed the panels at BP! My favourites were [livejournal.com profile] troyswann's worldbuilding panel, which was actually more of a worldbuilding workshop, a lovely textured substantive look at making up places (I had fun putting together an on-the-spot setting and backstory based on two fragments of information: a finger bone and a mineshaft), and the rec-your-fandom-in-five-minutes session (I did a breathless feelings dump of how much I love Parks and Recreation! I love it so much, you guys, so much so much. Imagine five minutes of that.) But I do not go to cons for the panels, really, I go for the company. So I have known [livejournal.com profile] brynnmck forever and this is her con, and the whole thing was just an extension of her wonderful hospitality and kindness. I had the best time hanging out with her and [livejournal.com profile] troyswann and [personal profile] catwalksalone. I had fun hanging out with them at panels but also going to get coffee with them, drinking spiced rum with them, dancing with them, getting through my terrible jet-lag and falling asleep listening to them. It was so good for my soul. I also got to meet [personal profile] pearwaldorf, which was great fun, and ran into a half-dozen other people I know.

-Spiced rum is pretty good, you know. Tastes like sugar smoke, feels like a slice of lemon wrapped around a gold brick.

-So we did the dance party on Saturday night (and I wore a pink and purple chiffon dress that for some reason I hadn't worn since the St John's Ball in second year - I just found a picture of myself wearing it outside Balliol's back quad looking like my feet are killing me; apparently I've learned to walk in heels since then) and it was pretty great, and then on Sunday the post-con movie was Newsies. Brynn sold it to me as a slashy Disney movie about trade unionism. Which to be fair are all my favourite things but I was unprepared for how EMOTIONALLY INVESTED I became in this movie! Christian Bale's terrible accent (but beautiful lips)! Bill Pullman! Collective action! DANCING! All the fangirls who had seen it before were announcing all the dialogue before the characters and singing all the songs and I was just going "ooh!" and "aah!" and "darling!" like I was at a firework display and hiding my head in Brynn's shoulder and at the back of the room there were maybe some people watching a movie like adults who even knows.

-We spent a lot of the con talking about Amy Poehler's face. And then Cat introduced me to Drunk History, which is ridiculous and beautiful and wacky. Adam Scott, your beautiful ridiculous wackyface. And I met Brynn's dog, who is an adorable puppy with a face. Actually he is a big dog with big sad eyes and he gets all the girls. And then we went to the airport, which sucked basically (sic semper tyrannis! basically). It was a lot of fun to pile into the car and go to the airport with an entourage of dear friends, and pretty awful to leave them behind.

-The flight from Seattle to London was 10 hours long. It was also AMAZINGLY EMPTY. Oh my god, it was the best. There were about 15 people in the economy cabin. I had the entirety of row 27 to myself. It was like transatlantic chauffeur service. And now I am on the ground feeling like I have been away for months (you all have new jobs! and new babies!) and as lucky as always that it's possible for me to travel as much as I do, never a stranger. Never a stranger anywhere I go. I am back in my flat, which is now my flat; we completed on Friday morning. It's an eerie, nice feeling. So is the fact I just pinged my own out-of-office reply. Still on holiday, still, just.

Generally, this is the year of cons (and, actually, the year of doing fandom and writing a little differently from how I've been doing them the last ten years or so; maybe more on that when I've quite figured it out). Vidukon is a couple of months away, alarmingly - that's Cardiff at the end of June - and I am allegedly doing the Race and Culture track at Nine Worlds in August. (If you are a non-white fan who's interested in participating on a panel (particularly a fannish panel) for goodness' sake tell me. Comment here, email race@nineworlds.co.uk!) Nine Worlds, by the way, has by far been my best con experience (con qua con, that is, not the company I kept there, because the ladies I go to Nine Worlds with sometimes put up with my face at other times of year) because it basically combines the best parts of cons like BP with the big commercial cons. Each individual track is a small, 100-attendee con, maybe? But there are so many tracks it's like you can go to several simultaneously, while running into everyone you've ever met, or so it seems. (It makes me feel like a rockstar, anyway!) I need to think about it some more.

Next up, maybe a review of The Oversight, and definitely one about Seanan McGuire's October Daye series, but first, sleep.
raven: Karen Gillan as Amy Pond, wearing green and red and looking up (Default)
Another day! Still building taxonomies. It's... wow, I'm exhausted right now.

[livejournal.com profile] gamesiplay asked: You have a tag called "FIAWOL"; it took me an embarrassingly long time to figure out what that was an acronym for. What does fandom as A Way Of Life mean to you?

So "fandom is a way of life" is certainly a set phrase that's older than I am, and I don't suppose I use it in the same way as those who coined it did, or possibly many other people, but, anyway, here goes.

There’s a quotation sourced to Lev Grossman that does the rounds periodically about how what fandom is, basically, is, punk. Here it is:

really aggressive towards the source text )

That's exactly it, to my mind. I guess, what I mean by fandom as a way of life is that fandom is important to me in the abstract sense as well as the day-to-day specifics. I think fandom is, both in substance and function, transformative. I’ve written before about how I believe that it was fandom, in conjunction with other things that mostly were also brought into my life by fandom, that transformed me from a shy and awkward thirteen-year-old to a shy and awkward, but settled-in-herself, adult. Fandom gave me community and the confidence to take my place in that community, and a cheerful cognisance that my community was really a global community: that I belonged to something greater than myself. But in some sense that transformation is over – I’m grown up now! Twenty-seven next month! What even happened? – and now I’m sort of getting ready to push off into that long haul of adulthood and I suppose, yes, it is the time to think about what fandom is to me now.

I guess, to be in fandom for me, regardless of whether I’m currently writing a 20,000-word epic story about Parks & Rec and alien invasions, or not; or whether I’m super-excited about a TV show about spaceships, or not; or if I went to four cons this year or none or wanted to but couldn’t afford to or saw fangirls last weekend or haven’t in months; regardless of any of those things: fandom is to make a choice, every day, to be part of a transformative world. To think, I can tell that story better, or differently, or just, with more cock jokes. To make people in power angry. To be such a threatening force in the world that we must needs take our place in the grand litany of women’s writing and art, and the writing and art of other subaltern groups, and be trivialised, demeaned and category-errored out of existence. Fandom is what teenage girls do (because, of course, to be young and a woman at the same time is the worst crime society can conceive of). Fandom is derivative and unoriginal (which is bad, unless it’s Margaret Attwood or Shakespeare doing it, in which case it’s innovative and literary). Fandom is theft (because to create a means of production of culture for no material gain is worryingly anti-capitalist). Fandom is nothing but badly-written porn (because mainstream porn is, of course, so suffused in quality, and young girls and women mustn’t be allowed to think for a moment that they can claim ownership of their own sexuality). I’m over all of that bullshit and people who peddle it. Those people are scared of fandom and they ought to be. Fandom teaches, you can retell the story your way. Consider how powerful an idea that is. Today it'll be the stories we tell ourselves about spaceships. Tomorrow, it'll be the stories we tell ourselves about justice. The day after it will be both of those at once.

(Relatedly, I loathe this pseudo-cute fannish thing right now of white fans saying things like, “Fandom loves [pretty white boys]”, or “I love [X], but of course fandom doesn’t, fandom only likes [Y] [because he's a cute boy] etc”. I am fandom. I have been fandom every day for thirteen years. It’s super-precious that you want to erase me for the sake of making a rhetorical point, except, actually, it’s not.)

And as well as that, fandom is love. Fandom is, well, fandom is how to be open to that – to look at the world and think, wow, there’s so much there to be excited about. Some people kissed on TV and it was awesome and it made me so happy and I want to go tell all my friends about it! Some other people successfully hit a small round object through a standing structure in front of thousands of spectators (and it was awesome and it made me so happy and I want to go tell all my friends about it!) There was a movie about giant robots! There was a book about spaceships for great justice! There was a story retelling another story that was itself a retelling of a story written 5,000 years ago by human beings just like us! (And it was awesome! And it made me so happy! And… you get it.)

So I guess the rumours are true and that fandom does skew young - in mind, I suppose, rather than body; because it demands of you the capacity to remain angry, to remain punk, to reject cynicism, to love them all and their faces so damn much. I think, at this stage of slightly unwilling adulthood, that's okay.

Meme meme

Dec. 3rd, 2013 04:35 pm
raven: Karen Gillan as Amy Pond, wearing green and red and looking up (Default)
If you want me to talk about something, I will!

In the meantime, here are two things I was asked to talk about!

[livejournal.com profile] highfantastical asked: I would LOVE you to talk about Geoffrey and Ellen! Have your thoughts/sympathies changed with time?

Geoffrey Tennant and Ellen Fanshaw are two of the main characters of the Canadian show Slings & Arrows, which is wonderful and is one of my favourite television shows of all time. It's about Shakespeare! And small town theatre! And true love! it's beautiful. Anyway, here they are, with Oliver, the third member of their triumvirate:

Their relationship is - oh, it's terrible. It's all crying and screaming and yelling. They are both actors, they both have an operatic tendency towards melodrama, their relationship is terrible for both of their mental health but particularly Geoffrey's - in the clip above, Geoffrey is literally one day away from the psychotic break that's going to destroy his career - and when everything finally falls apart it's probably for the best.

But, here's the thing, and this is a trope I love: they're miserable without each other. Calmer, but miserable. Seven years go by and Geoffrey makes a full recovery; Ellen keeps on acting, worries about being asked to play the nurse rather than Juliet, and they're miserable. When they come back together, it takes time - it takes time, and therapy, and lots more yelling, and ridiculous fights about skulls and impotence and After Eight mints! - but oh, goodness, when they make it, they're beautiful together, they set everything alight. I love them. (And, I mean, it helps that Slings & Arrows is wonderfully written, but it also helps that Paul Gross and Martha Burns are actually married. To say they have chemistry is a lovely understatement.)

At this remove of time I worry about Oliver - I think there's some queer erasure going on there, both for him and for Geoffrey, which bothers me a lot in a show I love so much - and I say this a lot, I'm all for queering the text, I think that's a thing you should do, I came to fandom through slash and slash is part of why I remain, but Geoffrey and Ellen were the first het couple I ever saw on television whose story made me want to sit up and listen.

Er. In answer to your question. No, I do not believe my feelings about them have changed! I think I still have a lot of feelings about them! Er. Yes.

[livejournal.com profile] yiskah asked: What do you think is the common factor that draws you to the things you are fannish about?

See, I've been trying to figure this one out for years and even wrote about it quite recently, elsewhere; according to the AO3, I've written nearly two hundred stories in forty-eight different fandoms, so presumably there's got to be something there other than a continual attraction towards the new and shiny. I think what it is, is this. I've described my fandoms before as "politics and spaceships" - and what that really means is that I like stories about found families, about communities and homes.

I mean, now I come to think about it, the original SG-1 (my first fandom!) was a totally serious business show about serious business galactic exploration! Remember? They sat on Jack's roof and ordered pizza and got drunk a lot and bought Teal'c a Stetson and sang "Row, Row, Row Your Boat" and never, in the end, went fishing, and I loved that; I love how the 4077th M*A*S*H was foetid and rat-infested and frightening, but they had movie nights and practical joke wars and Christmas parties, because they were a community; I love how Deep Space Nine had bars and Klingon restaurants and cocktail specials, that Garak and Bashir had lunch together every day and Odo secretly looked forward to his morning meetings with Kira and Sisko kept a baseball in his office; I love that the primary school on the Enterprise-D celebrated Captain Picard Day every year, and I love that there's a Babylon 5 gift shop. I love that Simon Illyan, at the end of everything, when he's broken and his mind is gone, can remember nothing but this: that the family Vorkosigan will carry him home. I love that Leslie Knope is running, not for president, but for city councilwoman for a town of 50,000 people, on a platform of accessibility and public service provision (and that Ben figures it out because "you've been making campaign speeches in your sleep"); I love how, in the Doctor Who universe, you ward off vampires with anything in which you have faith - so the Doctor stands his ground and holds up his head and recites the names of all his companions, one by one. I love that it's Night Vale community radio, that Sports Night was pretty much through with soccer; and that Hogwarts will always be your home.

Okay, I'm done. If you want me to talk about other things, say so!
raven: (vorkosigan - creepy planetary conquest)
So Nine Worlds was - and is, as they're running for definite in 2014 - a massive, multifandom mult-track multi-everything fan-run con in London, only not London, actually, but Heathrow, and it was wonderful, but I am so tired I am falling over so please have some edited highlights:

-Night Vale cosplay! [personal profile] such_heights did a wonderful Cecil with a bowtie and stuck-on third eye, and I suppose I could've done Carlos if I'd thought of it earlier but I went to the fancy-dress shop near work and bought a hooded cape and practised looming at people, and then on Friday afternoon I made a sign reading: "DOGS ARE NOT ALLOWED IN THE DOG PARK PEOPLE ARE NOT ALLOWED IN THE DOG PARK say nothing and drink to forget" and we went round the con like that. And it was amazing! We got there on Friday and got ourselves registered and went up to the queer high-tea drop-in (there was a queer track, a fanfic track, a geek feminism track, inter lots of alia, I was totally spoiled for choice), and people kept on recognising us and coming to talk to us, and then they did a fanfic cupcake drop-in also and the organisers had got Night Vale tea from Adagio. (It tastes nice, but I refuse to know what's in it. It's Night Vale tea, come on.) [personal profile] such_heights and I made super-excited simultaneous noises. We met another Cecil over the weekend - T., the organiser of the queer track, who had fab purple headphones - and I'm almost sure I saw a third at one of my panels, but couldn't catch up with them in time to make happy noises.

(Also, you know why I could've done Carlos happily and comfortably, if I'd got myself a lab coat and a confused expression? Because he's brown. I love that and I love writing him and I love everything about this.)

-Fanvidding panel and show were awesome, but getting home on Friday night afterwards was a nightmare - the Piccadilly Line was part-closed, and we had to make this stop-motion journey being thrown off the train every few stops and getting on another one, and we got back round about half one and left the house again at half eight, which was not so much of a highlight but actually it was kind of fun? A lot of the weekend felt like a school field trip, like grabbing your friends and going on an adventure. And here is a small thing I find relaxing - sitting outside, getting some fresh air, and watching a sequence of 747s landing in front of me.

(Actually, the venue was basically the only bum note of the whole con for me - the two con hotels were great, but in kind of a food desert and really difficult to access by public transport or by driving. Part of me did wonder if it would've been easier to take the car, but by this afternoon I was very far from fit to drive so perhaps not.)

-Saturday, I went to some great panels ("Heroes v. villains" on the literature track was surprisingly witty and delightful) and one very disappointing one; hung around lobbyconning for hours and hours, which was just fab, drank expensive airport-prices coffee, used the word "transformative" a lot; hung out with [personal profile] such_heights some more and had thoughtful conversations about life, then hung out with her and [personal profile] silly_cleo planning our femslash panel in the late-evening sunlight at an outdoor table at McDonald's. It was ridiculous and wonderful. I had a free hotel room for Saturday night courtesy of the Doctor Who track, and we all piled in there for some of the afternoon, and someone, I forget who, noted that you do feel guilty, paying your con membership and then hanging around with your friends and not going to panels - but, I dunno, I think room parties and lobbycon are as important, if not more so, than structured con programming. I guess I think all that talking, and laughing, and continuing panel discussions, and lying sleepily on top of the bedcovers talking about your wedding with someone who loves you enough to fly 8000 miles roundtrip to attend, and giggling about Tumblr memes in a deserted Piccadilly Line carriage at 1am, and love, and overpriced coffee, are - wait for it - transformative. And also, formative - constitutive of self, and the metaphorical ground from which you do the less fun stuff you have to do, in life.

(I really love the word "transformative".)

-Lashings of Ginger Beer Time did a short set, which I loved, and then it was queer rock geek disco time. (The first song they played was "20th Century Boy" - that made me happy. I'm told someone, when I left the dancefloor to find a drink and a bathroom, asked my friends if I was on something.

I leave this without comment.)

-Today was the day of ALL THE PANELS. Somehow, I don't know how, I got scheduled to be on five panels between 9.30am and 4.30pm. (This is where I sit still and am grateful for [personal profile] happydork and [personal profile] such_heights, who between them got me checked out, got me coffee, got me painkillers, and walked blithely into an afternoon panel to give me a pasty, among myriad other small kindnesses) Of the panels, the first one was "What makes a fandom?" for the books track and it wasn't quite worth missing out on giving the lovely hotel breakfast its due - everyone concerned was hungover.

The second panel was the Chicks Unravel Time panel, with [personal profile] shinyjenni and Una, and it was wonderful wonderful wonderful. It was so nice to read, and speak, in front of an audience just brimming with love and enthusiasm and insightful critique of Doctor Who and women in sci-fi and feminism generally and just, awesome things. It was like going somewhere you've never been and finding all your friends there waiting for you. And that was followed by the femslash panel for the fanfic track, which I'm still not sure I was the most logical choice for, but being on that panel was just a total joy, also: more insightful thoughts and productive discussion and people just being really happy and excited and passionate about queer female visibility, sexuality and lives. I loved it.

My third panel of the day was entitled "Is Doctor Who thunderingly racist?" and I was the only non-white person on the panel. I had been vaguely, then definitely, upset about this for quite some time. [personal profile] happydork offered very generously to sit in the front row and ask encouraging questions. I sat down with trepidation.

....and then it was awesome? I just... I still can't quite believe it, but it was awesome! The audience were sharp as whips, incisive, angry then productive, thoughtful and celebratory. They wanted to talk about Doctor Who as a colonialist narrative. They wanted to talk about Martha's story and its intersections with race and class. They wanted to break down Doctor Who in its historical contexts, and built it up again as a constitutive myth of Britishness. They wanted to take about its responsibilities in interrogating racism. I sat there and talked a lot and listened a lot and thought for a while I might cry from relief, then got over it. When I went out [personal profile] such_heights was waiting for me with the margarita I had demanded she bring me so I could weep into it; instead I drank it in happy celebration and wove my way upstairs.

(The last panel of the day was "Is fanfic literature?" which was good, and had a fluid exchange of ideas, but aaargh, I was so tired by then, with my empty martini glass and my bacon pasty.)

-At the end of the panel, I went back down to the dealers' room and went to speak to one of the artists selling her art at one of the long tables; I'd enjoyed speaking to her so much on Friday that I popped in when I could to keep her company, as she couldn't leave her stall to attend much of the programming. I bought a print off her, because she's a beautiful artist, and I'm a sucker for haunting line-art of corvids fluttering into paper distance. And as a kind of final benediction from a wonderful weekend, she gave me this.

I am very pleased with the world, and the small spaces I fit into in it, tonight.
raven: Karen Gillan as Amy Pond, wearing green and red and looking up (Default)
For various reasons, my mental health can be summarised right now as "on a knife edge'. This has been compounded by the fact Shim has gone to Hong Kong. (Not, I hasten to add, because I drove him to it.) He is off doing his sort of fandom for the next ten days or so, and I am home alone in a city livid with thunder. (Today, at work, I had one of those strange moments of contentment: the weather had darkened the day so my daylight bulb was the brightest thing in the room, and I went in to see my supervisor and found him on the floor looking for a lost consent order, everything shadowed by the storm.)

(A combination of aforementioned mental health and twenty-eight episodes of Welcome To Night Vale is what's done this to my prose style. I do apologise.)

Anyway. This weekend I am going to Nine Worlds in London, and I'm currently signed up to speak on four panels: fanfic myths; Chicks Unravel Time; Doctor Who and racism; is fanfic literature, also what makes a book a fandom?; and queer female visibility in fandom.

Shit, that's five panels. Anyway! So I am sorta kinda excited about it only not really, and it's probably because I'm depressed and nowt to do with anything else. So... please tell me if you're going? Please tell me if you're doing a panel I should be going to? Please tell me reasons why I should be excited about this, because I know they're out there, I'm just not... out there.

Also, because, what the hell, here are a couple of Night Vale fics I adored today:

and every map is blank, by [archiveofourown.org profile] gyzym.
In which Carlos shows Cecil a mountain; also they watch Mythbusters; also Khoshekh the floating cat responds to panic attacks; also there's the literal end of the world. Beautiful, a little haunting and totally absurd, just like the podcast.

The Observer Effect, by [personal profile] thingswithwings.
And here's Carlos, with his shirt off and his dick hard, squirming underneath the sweetest strangest man he's ever met and about to have an orgasm in company for the first time in eight years, caught without his sex permit.

As someone who finds paperwork viscerally transformative, I relate.
raven: black and wite Kaylee, against the background of her parasol in colour (firefly - kaylee's parasol)
I took a couple of days off at the end of last week and went to Oxford to see the lovely [livejournal.com profile] troyswann, whom I have known for years and years and years and is visiting our fair shores, and also [personal profile] catwalksalone and [twitter.com profile] elbee512 and it was just totally delightful and did my heart good. Sal, whom I have known since I was seventeen, is just the best. I don’t know what we talked about, only, I think we talked about a lot of things, including fandom, and Shakespeare, and weddings, and driving distances in Canada and how they can be calculated with reference to the curvature of the Earth; but I had such a wonderful time. Cat and Elizabeth are also wonderful people whom I had not met before! We talked about Sports Night quite a lot. And we went for cream tea at Queen’s Lane, only with not quite enough cream, and in my case, not enough jam. Also, the little greasy spoon on St Giles, where we went for breakfast, is much nicer than I remember and does lovely cinnamon rolls. I don’t know how this account turned into a litany of the food I ate, but it was all so joyful that the cream and jam seem the easiest way to express it. And you all know this already but Sal is the best: she is just as good a storyteller in person as she is on the page. She told me a lot of stories and I went to many distant places while she told them.

Also, Oxford – Oxford in high July, with all the buildings looking so beautiful they might as well be made out of crystallised honey, complete with blossom on the tree outside the university church, and an air of respectable desertion around Exam Schools. We did a long circuit from Christ Church Meadow, along the riverbank and the university parks, round the back of the Botanic Garden and up onto Magdalen Bridge a bit along from Hilda’s, and everything was so perfectly green and still. I love Oxford, still, probably forever; Sal turned to me as we walked up the High in the light curving towards dusk and said, “Well, this does not suck.”

Yes. Exactly.

In the morning I drove home in thirty-degree temperatures in my car that has no air-conditioning, and in which you can’t open the windows because the car sort of rocks from side to side, and dissolved on the couch for twelve hours, and then on Saturday I had a hen party.

You see I didn’t actually want a hen party, but. [profile] hathy_col, who is not my bridesmaid (I don’t have any) but has taken on all the responsibilities with none of the fun bits, organised everything and told me where to turn up, and predictably, I was very wrong to have had any doubts. Although it rained, and the place we were originally going to was closed for a private party without telling anyone, somehow or other we ended up in a cocktail bar somewhere near Covent Garden, with a very long menu, and a sheet of paper on which were scribbled all of the drinks being subjected to happy hour. It was great. [livejournal.com profile] tau_sigma had a wonderful purple top hat with a feather in it. Maria turned up in the middle of the evening to tell me that she had been ten days on shift, and she’d left the baby at home, and she wanted cocktails (which were all long, sticky and tasted a little of cream and banana, which is basically all I want out of life). I was a bit worried that I was the only person who knew everyone, but I went away for a minute and came back to a table eagerly discussing the ins and outs of Vulcan sex, and [personal profile] such_heights and [personal profile] happydork talking about Vulcan babies. I had forgotten to eat lunch and got really quite drunk.

I don’t know who initialised the tradition of toasting me with each round of drinks, but it was a great idea and there were a lot of drinks. I think some of them were sweet and heartfelt and about my future happiness in married life; one was definitely me toasting my wonderful, passionate and fascinating friends; there was also, “To Iona! May her betrayal never be inevitable!” and my personal favourite: “To Iona! ...there is no Iona. Welcome... to Night Vale.”

Which brings us neatly on to:

Welcome to Night Vale )

In conclusion, I love Welcome to Night Vale in a fittingly devoted and slightly scary way, all hail the great glow cloud. If anyone has a ficlet they wish written, please say so, I might just write it.

(Although, not the fic where the jet airliner that materialises in the high school gym is owned and operated by MJN Air, CEO Carolyn Knapp-Shappey, because apparently SOMEONE ALREADY WROTE THAT.

I mean.

raven: subway sign in black and white, text: "Times Square / 42 Street station" (stock - times square)
Here, lovely flist! Have a list of things that are on my mind that are not doom and gloom.

1. Vidding! I was at Vidukon last weekend, which was a lot of fun - I had a day off work, hung out with a lot of awesome people (after vaguely intersecting with [personal profile] cosmic_llin for years it was great to finally meet her) and I also met [personal profile] isagel and [personal profile] carawj and lots of other people. And I had a lovely time, and saw a lot of vids, and I sort of vaguely tried to start vidding a couple of years ago before my computer got stuck on permanent beachball and now I have a new computer and... you see where this is going. I have started to try and learn to vid, mostly by opening up the software and poking stuff until it goes swoosh or beep or ram-a-lam-a-ding-dong, and I have learnt some terribly basic things. I sort of hope I will keep on learning terribly basic things until I know enough of them to learn not quite so basic things? I hope. I'm not someone who's ever had any hobbies which require actual stuff - me, I write, I read, my real job can be done with a pen and an open mind - so learning how to use actual tools is quite new to me. [personal profile] such_heights pointed out that you learn because you have a vid in your head and you learn everything you need to know get the thing on the screen to look like the vid in your head - you won't learn in the abstract. Which I think is true, and so I can't decide if it's a blessing or a curse that the vid in my head is a multifandom vid about land registration.

(Yeah, I know. I know. One day I'll sit down and articulate why I sincerely believe land registration is important - and I suppose the vid is that, too, it's not about land registration itself but why I spend my whole life doing it, why land and people are the same thing inside themselves. In the meantime, swish, beep, ding.)

2. TV with gay detectives! I am watching the Donald Strachey series of TV movies, after seeing this gorgeous vid at Vidukon. They’re a series about a gay private investigator in Albany, NY, who largely (but not always) gets involved with crimes relating to the queer community, and they’re just delightful: funny, warm and comforting. Strachey is in a lot of ways a typically hard-boiled private investigator protagonist (his office in particular is hilariously clichéd, down to the glass panel door with ‘Donald Strachey Investigations’ in peeling letters!) but he is realistically and unremarkably queer in a way that’s both refreshing and rings very true. In her review, [personal profile] thingswithwings said everything I'd want to say about how much I enjoy this: a queer story that's about queer people, living their lives with kindness and realism and without melodrama. But even if is as much about the cases and crimes as the queerness, I still think having Donald Strachey be a queer, hard-boiled, hard-drinking, loner PI wouldn’t have been an awful lot of a step up from dead queer people or offscreen queer people – it has minimal impact on the narrative – even though that’s indisputably how the genre works.

But he's not a queer loner PI, he's a queer, happily married PI, and I have been flailing at T'wings a lot about this recently but Timothy Callaghan, Strachey’s long-suffering long-term partner, hits a number of narrative kinks for me in ways I wasn’t able to articulate before. (They're not legally married but as-close-as - the canon is set a few years before marriage equality in New York). There is a scene in one of the movies – I’m yet to find out if it’s in the books – where Timmy can’t fire a gun. Not as a matter of physically being able to, of course – it’s just that even with Donald’s and his own life at stake, he can’t pull the trigger. Strachey’s response to this is a minor spoiler, which kills me ) Now obviously it’s no surprise to anyone that I adore this trope, and the broader trope that it’s an instance of, too: the single voice of dissent against the exercise of power. Like Daniel in SG-1, and Toby in The West Wing, and Hawkeye Pierce in M*A*S*H (“Hawkeye Get Your Gun” is the episode about how Hawkeye, too, can’t fire a gun – even when drunk and having shells dropped on him (“Why are they bombing us? We’re already bombed!”)), Timmy is, explicitly and implicitly, the moral compass of the story – like T’wings says, he’s what stops Strachey being like Batman. But I did not know until now how much I needed to see that role queered, and the thing is, it damn well ought to be queered. Timmy is a senior aide to a liberal senator, and the canon likes playing with that – it likes leading you down the garden path of telling you that this cute, entirely non-aggressive, wandering-around-barefoot-with-his-hands-in-his-pockets man is the comic sidekick to his super-cool private investigator boyfriend, and then Timmy finds out that funding for one of his anti-poverty initiatives is being withdrawn and manages to secure $200,000 of charitable donations in five hours – because of course it’s engaging with the idea that there is more than one way to fight. To lead a queer life is in itself a political act; to live in public by a clearly-defined set of beliefs, informed and framed by queerness, is a political act. And Timmy does, and I needed to see that on television. (Basically the only thing that could make me like this more if it were the other show, the flipped-up version about the queer senator’s aide with the PI boyfriend.)

(Also, one of the movies has land registration as a plot point. I'm just saying, this is a thing that happens.)

3. Trying to find a new fandom! I just got to the end of Fringe, a show I like a lot, but even given that I’ve been more in the ebb than the flow of fandom recently. (It’s frustrating for me that basically every big fandom of the last couple of years has passed me by, or I’ve given it a try and not been into it: witness Community, Avatar: the Last Airbender, The Avengers, etc). The last big fandom I had any involvement with was the last Star Trek movie and that was 2009, for heaven’s sake. (As for the new movie: I saw it, I liked it, but [personal profile] musesfool’s review here basically hit everything I didn’t like about it. spoilers )

Anyway, new fandom! I am watching various things on and off. Haven’t managed to get into Warehouse 13 – I’ve tried the pilot and a couple of other random episodes, and it’s okay I guess? I like the idea more than the execution so far and haven't really picked it up again. Ditto Defiance, the new Syfy show – I watched the pilot, because hey, show with aliens! Yay! – but haven’t yet been inspired to watch any more of it. I’m told the aliens do start acting a little more alien later on, but, hmm. I am enjoying Orphan Black, the new Canadian thing – at least I think I’m enjoying it; I keep getting really tense! and pausing it! and thus not watching it terribly fast, but I think that means I do care about what happens to these people. So. So. Life notwithstanding, I'm still here.
raven: (middleman - sleepy wendy)
Dearest internet! As some of you will be (painfully) aware, [personal profile] soupytwist and I are running a con! It will be in the lovely city of Manchester (England, not NH) during the summer of 2014. If this sounds like a good idea to you, please help us out here with things you'd like to see at a British fan con, and also please help us name it!
raven: white text on green and yellow background: "ten points from Gryffindor for destroying my soul" (sbp - destroying my soul)
In the last week, I have: applied for two jobs; entered the competition for the Lucy Cavendish Prize; started agricultural forfeiture proceedings; done a rural first registration; got four hours of CPD; approached two academics and two professional supervisors about references; gone to a three-day con 3,500 miles away.

(I am very tired.)

(I also have concrud.)

I am so tired, and I have such concrud, that I think I shall listen to the Gaslight Anthem very loudly and let you have the edited highlights of Muskrat Jamboree, oh yeah:

-My ROOMIES, [personal profile] alpheratz and [personal profile] soupytwist who are the best roomies a girl could ask for. I arrived somewhat mangled on Thursday evening in the snow (after I fare-dodged on the T by mistake - dear state of Massachusetts, I owe you $2.50) and [personal profile] soupytwist looked after me and got me my registration packet and dinner and fangirls (I met [personal profile] celli and [personal profile] slodwick and have no very clear memory of what I said to either of them) and then I went to bed. The con hotel was pretty fabulous, but of all its myriad wonderfulnesses the beds were way up there. Big squishy pillows. Also [personal profile] alpheratz's alarm clock tone is "Glosoli", which I found sufficiently charming that I didn't care it was stupid o'clock in the morning.

(Americans also say "ass o'clock in the morning", which is much more expressive, only I can't pronounce it. I forget who it was at the con who got me to say "I pawned my porn at the pawn-shop" but yeah, same deal, terminally non-rhotic &tc.)

-Fandom blind date! I was holding up Slings & Arrows; [personal profile] soupytwist did The Middleman; it was awesome. Also slash pictionary, which was hilarious and joyous and kind of a testament to the wondeful human brain - you could draw five stick figures with a couple of semiquavers and trust the whole room to shout "One Direction!" - and kind of exhausting, also, so I went to the craft table and found grown women studiously engaged in covering pictures of pretty people with glitter. It was the best.

-Make-up! So, [personal profile] commodorified very kindly offered to make me up for the dance, and by the time she'd done with me I didn't quite recognise myself. I had gold glitter on my eyes and sprays of glitter on my cheekbones. I looked like her Midas touch. (Here's the thing. I never liked school all that much. I didn't aspire to be prom queen. But I walked into the MJ dance party wearing a short red goth dress, covered in glitter, surrounded by all these gorgeous, unrepentant, unapologetic women, and felt like these are my people, this is my place. Fangirls, you are as beautiful as the night sky.)

-The vidshow was amaaaaazing. It started with Starships and got everyone going; there was a sweet interlude of Home; and at the end of The Adventure, the atmosphere in the room was electric, collective, transformative - I was transported.

-Dance party! There was daaaaaancin'. There was also a lot of sadness for the bandom fans when it came to light right in the middle of the party that My Chemical Romance broke up. That was not a highlight, so I skip over it. The daaaaancin' was awesome though; I like watching lots of ladies doing Gangnam Style.

-Saturday was a quieter, more disjointed day - [personal profile] soupytwist and I both slept through the nine o'clock panels, and I didn't really get myself together until we got to my first serious panel, Kink 201. Which was fun and interesting, but the hotel were also leasing space to a casting call next door to the consuite, and it was packed full of children. (And some adults - one of whom was so obnoxious (who, outside of fiction, actually says, "What're you looking at?) that I was v. uncharacteristically driven to be very rude in public.) And, argh, you don't want to be doing a kink panel when there are literally fifty kids just outside the room. "Don't crack the whips! It'll scared the children!" ...yeah.

(It later turned out the casting call was some sort of elaborate scam; I felt bad for the kids, but not the dratted woman I yelled at.)

-In the afternoon was the Twenty Years of Due South panel, which I liked a lot, and afterwards we went for ice-cream and thence to a costume room party, which was all pretty fun. I was getting tired and anxious again, but I had a good time in the end - especially eating peanut chilli ice-cream (mmmm), and playing Apples to Apples, Fandom Edition. (I won, largely based on the observation that gay sex is quite popular, competence kink is cool, and accidental marriage is bogus!)

-Sunday was also rather disjointed, as the con proper was over by eleven and my lovely roomies departed homewards before lunch. I went for lunch at the restaurant closest to the hotel (an amazing fake Irish Viking bar serving Irish classic dishes, such as BBQ brisket with biscuit and chai-apple French toast) and got to hang out with [personal profile] spuffyduds and [personal profile] queue among many others, and that was really great. I got to talk a little about my real life with someone from fandom who Gets It. Isn't that awesome? It was awesome and... affirming, I suppose. I sometimes worry I am fighting some wars on my own, and it turns out I'm... not. That is very vague. But I finished my con experience feeling very, very good, not just about fandom, but about life - the life I've made.

I flew into Heathrow yesterday very early morning, got home and slept like a dead thing; I am about to do the same again. Lovely, lovely con. I don't know if I can make it to Seattle for BP, but here's hoping.

(Also, the final crucial detail. Following the end of Connotations, there is a space, I believe, for a fan-run con in the UK. A general one, not a vidcon like [community profile] vidukon_cardiff. [personal profile] soupytwist and I have plans. Watch this space.
raven: (fringe - olivia)
This week - has been a week. I'm on day six without ever sitting down for long enough to eat an entire meal, so today Shim is making me one! With actual food! And hot, and stuff! It's gonna be the best.

Otherwise: I worked a lot this week. Did a quiz-based networking event out in Girton, which I enjoyed even though we did terribly badly, and I'm apparently the department's new favourite person because I knew the meaning of the word "crepuscular" and thus we didn't come last. Saw the Gaslight Anthem at the O2 in Brixton, which I would have enjoyed more if I hadn't been dog-tired, but oh the Gaslight Anthem. They did "The Queen of Lower Chelsea" and I can basically be happy forever now. And yesterday I had a sequence of work disasters, rain, rain, more rain, got soaked getting to the station and forgot that the major drawback of the cut and cover Tube lines is that they go at twenty miles an hour, but I went to see Dar Williams at Bush Hall with [personal profile] happydork and it was delightful. She's so beautiful and talented and oh, even when she sings songs I don't have a particular liking for, she still sends shivers down my spine because of how ridiculously talented she is. I love her. And she is also the best. She came on and sang "The Light and the Sea" and it ended a bit awkwardly and then she looked at her audience as if noticing them for the first time and said, "Whoa, did I forget a verse?" Her backing musicians nodded sadly. I love her.

Also this week: my best friend in the world moved away for two years. Some of you I think may have a minor inkling who she might be. She's in the process of becoming; she's going away to be glorious. I will miss her so.

And now here we are firmly in autumn, I am sort of resting and sort-of having grim-spectre-of-the-future to the point where I can't sleep at night (this, with months to go before definite unemployment! I am such a failboat) so let's talk about serious things.

Firstly, [community profile] muskratjamboree, I am going. It was a total, day-of impulse decision - I know some people have literally been waiting years for registrations to open! - on the grounds that I can still pull out and god knows there would be a grateful person on the wait list if I did, but you know, I'm not going to pull out, I'm going. I love Boston, I'm apparently a grown-up now (?) and I'm going! Who am I gonna meet there? Tell me!

Secondly, Fringe is giving me feelings all over the shop. Peter! Olivia! Walter! Astrid! Etta! Even September, for goodness' sake. And you know, I think it really is because it's at heart a show about family, that which you're born with and that which you find. Which is why I love Deep Space Nine, too, and seems to be what I want in my speculative fiction TV. (I am oddly hesitant to class Fringe as SF - I sort of want to call it a kind of heavy-tech fantasy.) I am not quite caught up - am halfway through "In Absentia".

Also. "The Day We Died" universe, the sort of greyish white one? The one Peter lives through in the machine, anyway. Is it the only instance of a married straight couple on TV, who are happily married, who have different surnames, and it's totally not a thing? It's the only one I can think of.

And thirdly, there is no thirdly, it's time for lunch.
raven: (stock - scotland)
In wedding #1 of the year (of six possibly seven!) Colleen and Richie are married. I am so pleased.

All in all, it was a perfect weekend. We went up on the Caledonian Sleeper on Thursday night, and despite the drunken stag party four doors down (why, why would you get the sleeper as a stag party, what is even the point) I enjoyed it very much - I fell asleep when the train left the outskirts of London and woke up when they brought coffee at 6.45 am, and then you have that moment of stepping out of the train and suddenly - you're in Scotland. We went up to St Andrews in the afternoon through miserable murk and rain and made it in time for the wedding rehearsal. I don't think that before then it had actually sunk in what we were all gathering together for - Colleen announced her engagement, and asked me to be a bridesmaid, fourteen months ago, which is long enough to know something but not to internalise it - but then we were all standing there in jeans under the enormous panels of stained glass listening to the chaplain go through the order of service, and discuss the readings, and there was a great sense of descending imminence. The chaplain was very nice and helpful - and about seven feet tall and towering over most of his congregation - and took great effort to learn everyone's names, including what he called the hired congregation (Shim). After that the party retired for dinner and very necessary frozen margaritas.

The day of the wedding dawned washed-clean and sunlit and the entire party had gone to bed early with books the night before and were improbably calm (Colleen) and happy (me and Katie). I associate being woken up early in hotels because Colleen wants me to be somewhere with a different type of event entirely, but I went down for breakfast cheerfully and ordered a Scottish fried breakfast, and Colleen and Katie and Shim filled me in while I was eating it on the lifespan of the haggis, a little creature with one leg shorter than the other who runs around mountains until it gets speared in the Great Haggis Hunt, and that was about eight thirty in the morning; and I'm sure things happened between then and two o'clock (well, I know they did: among others, Colleen getting her hair done, Richie sending over champagne and glasses for the ladies to start the afternoon sloshed, several people reporting odd pre-wedding hallucinations of men in lederhosen and its subsequently coming to light that St Andrews celebrates Oktoberfest in March) but they either all happened at once or in about a ten-minute period, because it was very shortly after that they poured the two other bridesemaids and yours truly into a cab and said we'll meet you at the church.

The guests started appearing. Katie and I were freezing to death in our little green dresses in the wind off the North Sea. The photographer, who turned out to have distinctly dictatorial tendencies, rearranged us all bodily. And still Colleen didn't turn up. Shim said, thoughtfully, "Well, we know St Andrews doesn't have a train station." The organist struck up.

And then Colleen appeared, walking, holding up her dress, and wailed, "Oktoberfest stole my taxi!"

And after that, it went off perfectly. It was a beautiful, very human ceremony: the chapel is small and the guests only took up one half of it, and while I had a perfect view, standing off to one side holding Colleen's flowers, so did everyone else. Months ago, Colleen had been casting about for possible readings - she wanted the biblical one not to have too much hellfire - and I said, flip, "Why don't you have the bit from Corinthians, the tongues of men and angels." I was really touched to discover that was exactly what they read. After that, [livejournal.com profile] ann_pan read from Shakespeare, and the chaplain spoke about love as part idealism, part pragmatism, and held up the Doctor as a role model for those seeking idealism and good in the universe. (He spoke admiringly of the TARDIS and Dalek tattoos on Katie's arms, too. The congregation were delighted.)

Richie and Colleen looked just lovely, of course, but also entirely themselves. And nothing was polished nor perfect: I wobbled on my heels, the youngest bridesmaid confided that she was sure she was going to fall on her face on the flagstones, the groom was dead pale and the bride had to hand me over the flowers at the last moment, but that was the warmth and collective humanity of it, wasn't it. No one had to try to be anyone else. Colleen punched the air and said, "Yes!" as they were pronounced husband and wife, and we filed out into the sunshine in the quad and that was my best friend's wedding.

Photography outside was very, very chilly - more of the wind off the North Sea, but the sun was out, and I'm sure the pictures will come out beautifully. At one point the photographer looked at the bridesmaids, the ushers, the bride and groom, and said, "Now you're all young, maybe we can try for something cool and hip." It was less cool and hip and more incredibly awkward - Katie and I were muttering to each other about being a lawyer and a civil servant at a Doctor-Who-themed wedding - but she persisted and persisted and finally let us go inside for dinner and champagne toasts.

The reception was glorious: geek music, geek dancing, people in kilts tossing around inflatable Daleks, a lot of wine, a lot of sheer and incredible joy. The DJ played the William Shatner cover of "Common People" and the entire party hit the dancefloor; then he played "Star Trekkin'" and the entire party knew the words; then the Orbital remix of the Doctor Who theme; then the groom's family started looking a little alarmed. Halfway through Richie asked me to come and witness a deed, which I have done many times before but never barefoot with glass of wine in hand, and he walked back into the room with a different name. I went back with my glass of wine and danced with lots of old friends - [livejournal.com profile] tau_sigma in a lovely hat, [personal profile] vacillating ditto, [livejournal.com profile] moralrelativist with no hat but v. pretty dress - and Colleen's sister noted that she'd never seen me let my hair down like that. (c.f. one of colleagues, also last week: "I don't think I've ever seen you happy before.") Like I said then, I no longer worry about cows for a living and my oldest friend got married. What more do you ever need out of life.

At midnight, the party broke up to fading strains of the Proclaimers. Shim and I wandered home under an absolutely clear sky. It was all, not glassy perfect, but real and wonderful. I gave the lovely couple a recycled paper wastepaper basket to start their lives together - they asked for it! - and have lost my voice from laughing and singing so much. I hope that's a promise of things to come.
raven: (stock - rock 'n' roll)
I went home for the weekend on Thursday night, actually spent my study leave studying, then gave up on that sometime on Friday afternoon. [profile] hathy_col's hen party was epic and fabulous; I laughed a lot, ate cream and scones, played 'Pin the Appendage On The Gentleman", dressed up as Susan Sto Helit, drank awful psychedelic cocktails in an eighties glam bar, met many marvellous people and saw many marvellous people again, danced and danced, and poured myself home down the M6 yesterday feeling rather like toothpaste does when you've squeezed it out of the tube.

My favourite part was being greeted the following morning by Colleen saying mournfully, "I killed Whitney Houston."

(As she killed Michael Jackson by going out dancing the night of graduation, bets are being taken on whom the wedding reception will kill. The good odds are on Status Quo.)

My second part was arriving at the flat on Saturday afternoon and being invited to explain to the other sixteen women in the room how I know Colleen to start with.

"I met her on the internet," I said. "In 2001."

And now I'm the bridesmaid at her wedding. What a wonderful world.

The slightly alarming coda was being asked by one of the other trainees today, apropos of nothing, "How did you get the white stuff in your hair?"

It is charming, I think, that my colleagues find my Secret Other Life quirky and endearing. Even when pictures of me holding plastic weapons appear on Facebook.

In other news there is no other news. I have two weeks and four days left in agriculture; I really, really love the Gaslight Anthem; Shim and I are watching a lot of Scrubs and apparently I have many feelings about Dr. Cox and Jordan; oh, and I haven't seen this week's Fringe yet! Too much glitter, too much dancing. I'm working on it as we speak.

Last night I was driving very gingerly down the A14 in the thick fog, with nothing in front or in my mirrors but grey and black, thinking, the only way out of this is through. Two weeks, four days. So much glitter, so much dancing.
raven: (misc - thine own self)
I am on holiday. On Wednesday afternoon, at 4pm, I had an email from my supervisor detailing, with usual lack of clarity, a task they had for me, finishing with urgent. I did it till five and then did it till I was late for my dinner plans, and then it was getting on for seven and I left the building, and since then I have been on holiday. On Thursday I slept without dreaming until ten, and went out through the crystal cold day and wrote the novel in a cafe and went around the shops and watched a bit of TV and took a long bath, and it was all a little misanthropic but very reviving; today I took a French class, went to London and met [personal profile] roga, who is visiting from Israel, and we went to Camden Lock and to the Wellcome Collection, both of which were great fun in different ways, and we walked around in the cold talking and drinking hot apple juice. For dinner we met [personal profile] gavagai, who is carrying a lot of luggage, these days, while wearing Docs with silver sequins on; for some reason she thinks it very hilarious that I described her a glam rock polar explorer.

By which I mean to say, I think I needed, really needed these two days: a day to be misanthropic, and a day to see people and do things. I still think, incidentally, that my job is sucking all life out of me. But I shall be doing it for eighteen months more only - I will not be one of those people who does something they hate for forty years. So I told my French teacher, when she asked, in shaky and ungrammatical French, that I shall keep doing these lessons with her, infrequently but not stopping, and after eighteen months are over I shall do something sensible like go and spend a solid chunk of time in a French-speaking area and learn more that way. I shall go to India and learn to read Hindi newspapers.

And I bought red boots - Docs, but not glam rock - the other day, when my parents said to buy something nice to mark my birthday. They're lovely, rich ruby red, not at all practical, not at all something sensible grown-ups wear to work. But I have this gorgeous black frock coat from Topshop, that I'm wearing all the time now; I bought it full-price the December before last, then didn't take it to Ithaca because it wasn't thick or sturdy enough for the climate. It lived in a cupboard for a year until I pulled it out this winter, and I love it just as much as ever. In the same way my red boots will live in the cupboard for eighteen months, which is not that very long. More than eighteen months ago, I was accepted by Cornell, and that was recent, as major life things go. So I go on and I go on, and I will do these eighteen months and qualify, and then I will take the New York bar exam, and then, at the age of twenty-seven years and one month, I will be done with grown-up life forever. I have been told, by people who mean well and people who don't, that I'll grow up and know better than the life I foolishly think I want to lead. A life where I don't make very much money; an itinerant life, a life that contributes to GDP not a whit and my pension plan hardly at all; a life as a researcher, a scholar, a public servant, a fan, a writer, a citizen. A life like both my parents have led, like both my grandfathers led.

Well, I'll be able to say then, I am grown-up. I am a lawyer in two jurisdictions, I have worked in private practice. I make the choice not to be unhappy; I make the choice to aspire to other things. I make the choice to wear red boots and to be a fangirl. You can't rescue me from myself. And then when I think about it like that: that I can dispense with that life in a year and a half, that I can say to myself, self, you made a choice, you took responsibility for your own happiness, you made a choice to live by your beliefs, then I think it's all worthwhile, after all.
raven: (misc - we win)
Twenty-four hours, four cups of coffee, four hours of sleep, 7200 words and umpteen twitter status updates later, I finished my legislation take-home. Thank you, everyone who said nice things to me during the long, long night. And I am very glad I never have to do that again. I am still somewhat wrung out another day on - I do think, seriously, that a take-home is the worst of both worlds: with a three-hour exam you build up to it, you ride over it on a crest of adrenaline and suddenly it's over and you can sleep. With a paper you can take your time to know what you're doing. Instead you get the faintly panicky ill-feeling for a whole day, while your brain dribbles uninspiringly out of your ears and you find yourself writing twelve hundred words on "Is Congress hopelessly dysfunctional?" while the world tips around your head.

After it was over I stretched like a cat and prowled about my apartment for a bit, then rolled over and fell asleep fully dressed on the top of the covers, and then the Siren took me out for ice-cream and gossip and after that [personal profile] petra and [personal profile] thingswithwings appeared and were kind to me and my softening brain and took me for dinner. We had tapas al fresco with a surprisingly nice pinot grigio, and it was one of those perfect spring evenings laced with the perfect mixture of tired, happy and tipsy. We sat there through the sunset and talked about fandom and laughed a lot, and it was just delightful. At some point we got to talking about kitchen utensil AUs and Sad Fics What We Have Known and I remember telling T'wings she was the second person yesterday to talk to me about Draco/Neville, which was kind of delightful.

I dunno, I've been blessed in life by having a lot of fannish people to interact with in my daily life - because, y'know, sometimes you need that - but I don't always have the pleasure of talking about my writing woes to other people who write. At some point last night I was explaining tipsily that I am trying to write this story, right, and it was going to be short, right, and it was going to be a sweet little OT3 story, that was all, and suddenly I started thinking Things and now it's a story about ownership and feudalism and what. (T'wings says I am the second person she knew to have a problem with a silly little story turning into one about conceptions of ownership. I am delight.)

edited to add: has anyone, yet, invented an app or tool that will take a chunk of prose and change its tense from present to past or vice versa? I hate it when I realise that's what a story needs.

Speaking of delight, I think I need a nap. it's a beautiful sunny morning in Ithaca and in an hour I have to help the Siren carry all her minor kitchen appliances through Collegetown to the law school. I am sure this will happen entirely in a sensible fashion and there will be no laughing at or with.

Oh, and! For Remix, I wrote Distillation (the Anticlockwise Remix) (HP, Sirius/Remus, Peter), a remix of Connection Concotion by [archiveofourown.org profile] ineffabilitea, and while it is not the best thing I have ever written by a long shot, it is not the worst.

Naptime! Then appliances and paper-writing. I love the spring.
raven: stock shot of a wall with "I love you" graffiti (stock - i love you)
This is a little early, but what the hell, I'm buzzed and mellow and I want to talk. Today is January 9th, 2011 - another day, nothing special, perhaps. Ten years ago, I was thirteen, nearly fourteen, bright and lost and looking for something; ten years ago, less six weeks, I discovered a fanfiction archive, a television show and a friend.

Ten years ago I met [personal profile] hathycol; today I am twenty-three, nearly twenty-four, and next year I'll be bridesmaid at her wedding. Here's to you, fandom: here's to everything I found, everyone I met, everyone I've loved; everything I've watched and read and seen; every alien city I've slept in among friends. Here's to you, and thanks for everything.

A quiet day, today. Colleen and I went to Manchester with [livejournal.com profile] tau_sigma; we went to Afflecks, and sighed for our rapidly-receding days as teenage goths; we went to Forbidden Planet, and bought doughnuts and drank coffee and talked about everything and nothing. I bought a coat. Tali and I made fun of Colleen's passion for Cardassians; we made hen party plans and cackled with laughter. Colleen and I got through a bottle of mellow wine over dinner, and I am happy, so very happy. Perhaps I don't say this as much as I should, but here it is, anyway: fandom is no longer as important to me as it once was. It's no longer my only passion, the only thing I really care about. But that's because when it was, when it shaped my ideas about community and storytelling and what gives people value, it drew out my talents, and it gave me the strength of that community. I care about other things now - like social justice, law, my career and relationships - because I am what fandom made me, because it made me grow up feeling like I could contribute to what I care about. That I can shine as bright as I see everyone else shine.

And I still care about stories. I always will.

[livejournal.com profile] fandom_stocking went live today. I had lots of very sweet greetings, but some people have been especially kind: [livejournal.com profile] thistlerose wrote me a sweet ficlet, Unpathed Waters, Undreamed Shores, about McCoy and Spock, whom I adore, and if that weren't enough, she also made some very pretty icons. And [personal profile] icepixie made me a vidlet, Sea-Changed, which is Slings & Arrows, Geoffrey and performance and evolution and applause, and it made me cry while simultaneously being very happy. Oh, it's lovely.

It has been a beautiful ten years; the next ten will be different in their own way, but I am so happy to have grown up here.
raven: (doctor who - hello sarah jane)
Precisely three weeks from now I will be half-asleep above the mid-Atlantic. So close, so far. In the meantime I am subsisting entirely off peanut butter, whisky, gummy vitamins and battered Galaxy bars, and spending my time either working, failing to sleep, reading decade-old SG-1 fic or wailing on Shim down the phone. I have done approximately a quarter of my outlining and a quarter of my paper writing (my professor writes: "Nice start - why don't you write about due process?", to which my response has not so far been "DO I LOOK LIKE SOMEONE WHO KNOWS ANYTHING ABOUT CON LAW DO I" only through a magnificent quantity of self-control.

On Thursday morning I got up at twelve, stared at the ceiling, went back to sleep. Then hit said ceiling at a hundred miles per hour half an hour later, hit the shower, found clothes, managed to have earrings in and boots on, even, by the time the South African Siren wandered in, looked around and said, "...you just got up, didn't you."

We ran out to the car, which was stuffed with people. "I drove past them all at the bus stop waiting for buses that wouldn't come," the Siren explained, and the bleakness of the sky seemed particularly telling. "It's a day to be kind, I think."

I agreed, squished myself in, and was a model of togetherness and poise, until we got to where we going, and I jumped up and down and shouted, "Shit, I forgot my TICKET!" just in time to be introduced to the Siren's mother, who is looking more regretful by the moment at leaving a southern hemisphere summer. ("I'm so glad she's making friends," she told me gently, a little later, while I was desperately trying to give off the impression of being put-together young professional rather than half-asleep work-crazed caffiene-deprived woman.) The Siren, who is all kindness, really, clapped me on the back, refused to be intimidated by my sheer grey-weather incompetence, ran me home to get my ticket and brought me back again.

Explaining Thanksgiving to foreigners is difficult, as my adviser swiftly seems to have discovered ("We thought the Native Americans suffered," said YJ, an earnest chap of Chinese descent over dinner, and he gave up) but nevertheless, the law school took pity on us all and said they would pay for us to have lunch with the graduate-and-international-students' association. Lunch was, actually, surprisingly nice. Tobermory and Baby E had kept some room for us, and we went to get the food. It was informal - you had to serve yourself and eat off melamime tables - but the food was extortionate in quantity, and the sweet potato was sweet and the turkey wasn't dry and there was good coffee. The desserts were lacklustre, but you can't have everything in life.

Halfway through lunch Tobermory stood up and said, "I'd like to say, I'm thankful for all my friends. Except Iona" - to laughter and applause and people making affectionate faces at me.

I waved a regal hand and ate more pie. A lot has changed in the last fifteen weeks of my life, but it certainly hasn't all been bad.

Afterwards the Siren dropped me off home, and I should add my apartment is a biohazard right now - it's full of discarded articles, sweet wrappers, unwashed dishes and laundry, and to add final insult I had a wee incident with a hole-punch and everything's covered in chads, so help me God - but it was looking suprisingly cosy against the backdrop of the bleakest day I've lived through recently. One oddity of the last week or so has been strange, sporadic power cuts: five- or ten-minute intervals heralded by nothing but a sub-audible whine. Because I spent a good deal of my formative years in Delhi, I have an instinct for a loss of power, even in daylight; it's like the world around you has taken a breath and not let it out, an unspoken question hanging on the suddenly charged air - and then you look up and there are no figures displaying on the microwave or whatever, but just for that second, you know, without being told. That's what Thanksgiving daytime was like, on a bigger scale - bleakly grey and freezing cold of course, a cold I associate with bad things coming, and that loss-of-power desertion; no one on the streets, something missing at the heart of things. It's a lonely place, sometimes, this.

So I got home to my tip of an apartment, and turned on all the lights, and all at once it was warm, and welcoming, and nice, despite the bleak feeling outside. I curled up on the couch and got an hour or two of work done, drinking tea sent in the post, feeling rather okay about things. And once I'd done that, I called a cab and went out again.

See, I had kind of had my doubts whether this was a good idea - whether having more than one Thanksgiving meal in a day was going to get a bit Vicar of Dibley - but then I thought, you know, what the hell, I will love seeing [profile] thingwithwings and [personal profile] eruthros and [personal profile] livrelibre, and they will totally not mind if I don't do their delicious spread the justice it deserves.

That.... was not an issue. Oh, food. More turkey, sweet potato, squash, delicious salad with walnuts in it, a kind of bombastic pinot noir and my subsequent re-realisation that I can eat more than anyone else I know, especially when I am living off a diet of peanut butter and whisky. We got tipsy, talked politics - somewhat depressingly; though we rounded it off with a solid conclusion that clearly the world would be better if we became pirates and went around dispensing loot and social justice - and watched "Dalek", the first new Who episode which features Daleks. (obv.) [personal profile] livrelibre is in the enviable position of just starting to watch Doctor Who and is being shown it in increments. (I cannot wait to show her "Blink".)

"Dalek", actually, holds up to the rewatch. I hadn't seen it since [livejournal.com profile] hathy_col and I were at a con in Milton Keynes back on the weekend it first aired (I remember now, we'd been wandering around all day with little badges marked "Dalek Virgin", and the second word handily came off for the second day of the con.) I was watching it, and there's a marvellous woman in it who is Van Staten's assistant, and gets him dumped by the roadside in the end, and I was watching it thinking "...is that? Yes, it is Osiris from SG-1!"

Of course, reading back my own review of the episode from 2005, I apparently had this exact same revelation in almost the same words when watching it with Colleen. I am so smart. So I wandered home, fell asleep on my couch - and managed to move myself to my bed during the night, which is, sincerely, an achievement - and have made it through the next couple of days without what one might call major crazy. Three weeks, three weeks.
raven: TOS McCoy and Kirk frowning, text: "Well that's just maddeningly unhelpful" (st - MADDENINGLY UNHELPFUL)
Today, I am having a quiet day doing nothing very much. The sun is emerging slowly and it's good.

This is mostly because I got up yesterday at the crack of dawn, dragged Shim out of bed too, filled my bag with water bottles, cereal bars and Haribo, and got the X5 - for the first time! how can I have lived in Oxford five years without ever going through this particular rite of passage - to Milton Keynes. I have been to Milton Keynes on three previous occasions, all for the same reason - conventions. I am not cool, okay. Never have been, never will be. Moving right along. I didn't go to any for four years until last year, and this is my second within a year. Maybe it's indicative of how you can take the girl out of geekland, etc.

So, I got the X5 into Milton Keynes, which is still total hell - the city, not the X5. I mean, seriously, I know it's a cliché to talk about how awful it is, but oh, so many roundabouts, such a total lack of being able to walk anywhere, and yes it's lovely and green but so is the countryside. I mean. Sometimes in cities you like to be able to walk places without walking boots and a crook, or the benefit of an internal combustion engine. Argh. [livejournal.com profile] hathy_col got really rather stressed out round about roundabout number 355, which seemed to me be a very restrained response to all the endless revolving through Dantesque circles.

ANYWAY. The Collectormania empire has been ousted out of its usual location and been stuck in a football stadium in Bletchley, so accordingly I skidded up around lunchtime and met [livejournal.com profile] hathy_col, [livejournal.com profile] tau_sigma, [livejournal.com profile] stupidore and [livejournal.com profile] ann_pan and Lucy-who-is-not-on-LJ in the queue to meet Chris Barrie, and she - Lucy - explained in hushed tones that she'd loved him since the age of thirteen and then went an endearingly brilliant shade of pink. I had never met her before, but decided she must be some type of kindred spirit. After this we went to the dealers' room to look around and warm up a little.

Yes, about that. From the purely logistical standpoint, this was one of the worse conventions I'd been to - it was all arranged in a long line, so you had to walk for miles to get from one end to the other; it might be a day in late May, but the rain had been driving all day and the whole place was exposed to the elements, except the dealers' room which was too cramped and stiflingly hot; and the stewards were mostly all stuck on the one setting, which was "irrationally angry", and on the whole there was no food to speak of, and no coffee. I was a little frustrated by it, but the company made up for it, as usual. I love conventions of this type, where you wander around in a big gang of other women and don't feel obliged to attend any particular panel or go and see any particular guest or do anything

I missed going to meet Patrick Stewart, on account of not having been enough of an early-bird to get tickets, but I went to meet Kate Mulgrew instead. about that )

At length, the party acquired food and retreated to the hotel room to eat and vegetate in peace, with the help of three gigantic pizzas and garlic bread, potato wedges and what the Domino's pizza menu described as "chicken strippers".

("Oh," said Tali, whose sense of humour gets charmingly cutting at unexpected moments, "do they do a little dance, do a little twirl, then pluck their own feathers off?")

In the meantime, Ann and Lucy had decided that what I really ought to do was try on their Star Trek dresses. (Katie had been searching vain for one all day.) The first one, Ann's, was a little red number with jaw-dropping cleavage (it came from Ann Summers!) that I liked a lot, for all I had to wear it without a bra and looked rather nippletastic. The second one was an "official", a little blue science dress which I also loved. I now want one of my own, so I can wear it with amazing high-heeled boots and have a fancy-dress party just to do so.

And then we watched Doctor Who. Cold Blood )

The BBC, with its inimitable talent for scheduling, then segued into Eurovision with scarcely a pause. I stayed for the Azerbaijani entry - okay, I have said this before and I'm going to say it again, Azerbaijan is not in Europe, and please no one comment to explain it, I prefer having it as a delightful mystery - and also the Spanish entry (there was a pitch invasion! Random chap ran on, did a little dance in the middle of the Spanish act, was dragged off by security), and paused for the amazing Moldovans (with the chap who was greatly sexually attracted to his own saxophone) before finally, with great regret, departing. I caught the last bus back to Oxford and thought that my adventures were over for the day.

but they weren't - er, this might be triggering for some )

So I returned, fell asleep almost instantly, and I have to say, it was a very, very nice day. Thank you to all who made it so! And today I do nothing but sleep and write.

October 2017

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