Dream of the Dolphin
a.k.a.
Confessions of a Post-Graduate Pity Whore

Free Story!

Saturday, August 30, 2003
 

Free Story!

Whipping through -- Worldcon is AWESOME, and the free story, "In the Blood", part one of The Blood of Kesh, is now up on my author site.

Zoom!!!

( 2:38 AM ) Sarah Jane ~





Wednesday, August 27, 2003
 

ROFLMAO!!!


Okay, go here. See the "Faulty Logic" section three groups down? Click on "Porn Madrigal". Extremely PG, but very funny. Especially when you've had to do madrigals in Choir.

( 11:30 AM ) Sarah Jane ~


 

Boneheads in the Mailbag

Okay, pause for a wee rant-let.

I get a LOT of traffic from Sheila's blog, which is great -- I've met some awesome people who told me they found my blog by following a link from Sheila. But with 1/3 to 1/2 of my traffic coming from Starlines, there are invariably the occasional boneheads who trickle through as well.

Sheila hates cons. I know this, and I was extremely flattered that she braved the ICFA to meet me. This is her choice -- cons are not her cup of tea. And usually, when a con comes up, she posts about it (something along the lines of "no, I won't be there"). If I'm attending said con, I'm usually posting about it too (something along the lines of "ohboyohboyohboyohboy it's almost TIME!!!")

So I guess it's unavoidable that when Sheila posts something like this, I get an e-mail about it from one memorable individual. I got TWO this time -- lucky me! Usually he (I'm assuming it's just one person -- his/her writing style is pretty distinctive) accuses me of being a greedy self-serving literati snob, or something along those lines (something I find absolutely hilarious, given the stuff I'm currently writing).

These two contained some classics. I'm "pandering to the popular culture", I'm "attempting to gain recognition through sicophancy [sic] rather than actual talent", "attempting false validation of [my] validity as a writer", or my personal favourite, engaging in "self-indulgent ego stroking to mask the incompetency in [my] own work".

There was more, and it was hilarious. It's fairly obvious that the writer in question has never a) been to a con, or b) read anything I've written.

I'd just like to point something out. I love Sheila -- she's a lovely person and a great writer, and she has helped me out a lot both personally and professionally. She's a friend, and I'm very happy to know her. But you'll notice that she signs her posts "S.L. Viehl" and not "God." She doesn't like cons, so she doesn't go. I go because I've had the time of my life at every one I've been to. Granted, I've never been to anything as BIG as a WorldCon before, but I'm really excited, and since there will be a large group of my friends there who share my love of all things SF.

There's nothing wrong with that. Going to cons and being on panels does not automatically make me the anti-Christ. So stop wasting your time writing to me and go write something productive. I won't be here to get your e-mail anyway -- I'll be at WorldCon. :o)

( 10:55 AM ) Sarah Jane ~





Monday, August 25, 2003
 

Bugs! Big Bugs

Today was an awesome ROM day. We had Zip the snake for the first hour, who really likes me and ended up going to sleep on my shoulder. Then we had our big ROM going away party for all the Monday volunteers but me. ::sniffle:: On to bigger and better things, I suppose. The mossy frogs were amplexusing like crazy, and the tadpoles are huge.

AND I got to borrow an owl skull, a hawk wing, a life cycle of the honey bee block, and a huge honking tarantula in a 10-pound block of acrylic for my hands-on science panel. Just to give you some reference, that's my hand on the left:

Bugs!


Megan's afraid of it, so I'm keeping it in my room. It makes a freaking awesome paperweight.

I actually uttered the words "Woo!!! Science!!!" tonight, which Megan found hysterically funny.

I just think this is the coolest thing now in my possession.

( 10:22 PM ) Sarah Jane ~





Sunday, August 24, 2003
 

Huzzah!

Today was renfaire day, and though it was odd being there without Tami, Nathaniel and I had a good time.

We watched a guy named Mike catch a flaming cabbage flung by catapult on top of his head, followed by Queen Elizabeth getting into an argument with the pirates who crashed the village. We saw Dante's Inferno perfomed by two guys and a girl in a big pit of mud, watched a human chess game, and saw Zoltan the Adequate set his tongue on fire.

All in all, it was a pretty full day. Though Tami, I'm sad to say there was no sign of Codpiece Boy.

In light of Worldcon next week, I managed to restrain my spending. I bought a nifty earcuff:

Ooh, shiny!


and a really cool hand-turned dragon mug:

The perfect tea mug


I did, unfortunately, peter out early because I'm still exhausted from yesterday. But it was still an awesome day.

And for something completely different:

You Are a Samurai
You are a Samurai.
You have trained the majority of your life. You are
honourable, you follow your word. You spare no
one once in combat, but that is expected, for
your oponent would do the same to you. You use
a two-handed katana.


What type of Swordsman are you?
brought to you by Quizilla

I find this funny, because aside from the katana, it sounds an awful lot like Variel. :o)

( 6:30 PM ) Sarah Jane ~





Saturday, August 23, 2003
 

Holy Freaking Wow... I Mean... Here's my Torcon Schedule

My final Torcon schedule is as follows:


THURSDAY

+===========================================
ID: 745
Title: Farscape The Best Science Fiction Show Ever?
Moderate: N
Day: Thu Time: 1500
Duration: 1
Room: CC: 201ABCD
Description: Great stories, writing, characters, acting, effects, and direction made this deep-space action drama awe-inspiring, unique -- and possibly the best that modern media science fiction has to offer. Why is it gone? Why can't other shows achieve this quality?
Panellists: Sarah Elliott, Peter Knapp, Tara Oakes,
+===========================================

+===========================================
ID: 505
Title: Archetypes and Fairy Tales
Moderate: N
Day: Thu Time: 1600
Duration: 1
Room: CC: 104B
Description: Does all good or great fantasy take root in the fairy tales of our or earlier peoples' youth? To the extent that a fantasy work doesn?'is censorship? Should the books carry a warning label that it is an edited or abridged version of another work? Would you
Panellists: Kathryn Cramer, Dave Duncan, Sarah Elliott, P.C. Hodgell
+===========================================


FRIDAY

+===========================================
ID: 1510
Title: Decorate a Journal
Moderate: N
Day: Fri Time: 1200
Duration: 1
Room: CC: 103B
Description: 0.00
Panellists: Sarah Elliott, Lisa Ragsdale,
+===========================================


SATURDAY

+===========================================
ID: R
Title: Sarah Elliott (Reading)
Moderate: N
Day: Sat Time: 1030
Duration: 0.5
Room: CC: 203A
Description:
Panellists: Sarah Elliott,
+===========================================

+===========================================
ID: 1421
Title: SFC: Science from the Fiction Workshop
Moderate: N
Day: Sat Time: 1200
Duration: 1
Room: CC: 206C
Description: To solve the problem posed in a science fiction short story, participants will design, build, and test a working prototype vehicle. All materials and testing equipment will be supplied. Caution: fun is inevitable!
Panellists: Tony Czerneda, Sarah Elliott, Rocky Persaud, Marcel Gagne
+===========================================

+===========================================
ID: 1544
Title: Hands On Science???
Moderate: N
Day: Sat Time: 1500
Duration: 1
Room: CC: 103A
Description: 0.00
Panellists: Sarah Elliott,
+===========================================


SUNDAY

+===========================================
ID: 260
Title: Design of Non-Humans in Fantasy
Moderate: N
Day: Sun Time: 1400
Duration: 1
Room: CC: 104CD
Description: Fantasy, unlike science fiction, tends to focus on psychological rather than merely physiological notions of alienness. Traditional descriptions of the Fey mindset, for example, diverge markedly from the human norm. But given stories positing the quotidia
Panellists: Sarah Elliott, Will McDermott, Sean Mead, China Mieville, Sarah Zettel,
+===========================================


MONDAY

+===========================================
ID: 1,522
Title: Masks and Mime
Moderate: N
Day: Mon Time: 1000
Duration: 1
Room: CC: 103A
Description: Make a mask and create a character to act out without using sound
Panellists: Sarah Elliott, Lisa Ragsdale,
+===========================================


But wait, what was that again? Let's just take one more look at Saturday:

SATURDAY

+===========================================
ID: R
Title: Sarah Elliott (Reading)
Moderate: N
Day: Sat Time: 1030
Duration: 0.5
Room: CC: 203A
Description:
Panellists: Sarah Elliott,
+===========================================


I HAVE A FREAKING READING! I am so excited I can hardly breathe. This is my first reading ever at a Con. It wasn't on my original schedule, which didn't surprise me. I thought I was too small a fish in too big a pond. But I'VE GOT ONE. And at WORLDCON! Holy Freaking Crap.

I haven't decided whether I want to read "Mirror, Mirror" or "Tides of Change". I'll have to read them both and see how I do on time. But WOW! A reading. Imagine that.

( 11:17 PM ) Sarah Jane ~


 

D'oh the Pain!

I freaking hurt. Everywhere. Went in to set up the experiment at the lab today at 2. Much lugging of huge buckets of water and gravel. Lugging freaking ROCKS around the aquarium. The lights started shutting off about 7. Finally, I thought, I can go home. Alex goes over and resets the timers. I didn't get out of there till 9. I hurt in so many places now, it's not even funny. I pulled so much in my shoulders that I couldn't even get my bra off. I had to slip the straps of and turn it to the front before I could undo it. Aargh.

But then I listened to the half-hour BBC radio program "I Have A Cunning Plan", all about the making of Blackadder, the best Britcom ever. It made me feel better. Well, spiritually at least. Physically I'm a total train wreck and in serious need of sleep.

( 11:10 PM ) Sarah Jane ~





Friday, August 22, 2003
 

Glug...

I have so much to do before Worldcon, it actually scares me, so if my posts are sporradic for the next week, you know why. And I couldn't do much of it today, because I spent it cleaning the frelling stock tank. But, 5 hours and 1 Kilolitre of water later, it's in pristine condition again. I, on the other hand, am this far away from passing out.

Megan's home, and back from the hospital. She picked up a lovely little case of e-coli, but she's okay and recovering. She's officially a shaman now. I'll post updates as she works out her thing with the CBC.

I managed to get 6 chapters of Elysium edited last night, and I'm aiming for more tonight. I also promise to have "In the Blood" up in the freebies section of my website before Worldcon. There's a sneak peek up there now.

I've started reading two new webcomics. PVP pokes fun at gamers, gaming, and the SF community in general (the story thread running now involves the production of the ultimate fan film), and Nice Hair pokes fun at Neil Gaiman and Tim Burton, and has me falling out of my chair laughing. Jenny, you should read that one. Go to the archives and start from the beginning.

And now I'm off to edit more Elysium. Whee!

( 10:01 PM ) Sarah Jane ~





Wednesday, August 20, 2003
 

Eeee...eeee...eeee...

I have concluded that the "system is overloaded" phone beep (like a busy signal, but faster) is scientifically designed to drive people to homicidal rages at the fastest possible rate.

The limo thing was a bust. I tried for seven freaking hours (not unbroken, but every 15 minutes or so) yesterday to get through to Air Canada, and the last two were pretty much spent entirely on redial. I finally got through on my twenty-seventh try after I got up this morning. And for what? I found Megan's itinerary and managed to get a note added to her reservation file -- and there's no guarantee she'll see it.

She's in the air as I'm typing this. I really hope she gets home okay.

So this week has been... stressful, to say the least.

I got my WorldCon schedule, which I'll post once it's finalized, but there are some pretty eepworthy panels. Strangely, though, that panel that had my name on it isn't on the schedule. But I'm on a lot, and organizing much. I need to figure out where to find cornstarch.

The sib came over yesterday to fix my computer and install new RAM on my system -- which didn't work. When we took it back, at first they weren't willing to do anything but give me store credit. It was my sibling's insistence and my increasingly frantic whimpering that finally netted us a different make of RAM that actually worked.

But we ate well last night, anyway. I managed to locate fries-and-gravy flavoured chips (don't ask how), which are one of our fondest childhood memories (aah, Chip Day), and made Sarah's Famous Wraps, which he really really liked. Yay me.

SARAH'S FAMOUS WRAPS
  • Place a large flatbread (I like the Dempster's flavoured ones, usually cheese or spinach) on a plate.
  • Spread hummus of your choice (my favourites are sundried tomato and roasted red pepper) on wrap. Should cover the wrap save for 1/2" (give or take) around the edges. Thickness is your choice, but I use a LOT of hummus on mine. Yum.
  • Place a generous line of alfalfa sprouts down the centre of the wrap (for variety, add a few onion sprouts to the alfalfa). The sprouts are your base, and determine how thick this thing will be when you wrap it.
  • Thinly slice a cucumber and add a line of cucumber to the sprouts.
  • Peel a carrot and grate it (I use a cheese grater) over the sprouts.
  • Slice up a red onion and add just a little to the veggies.
  • Add pepper.
  • Drizzle a capful of Golden Italian dressing over the greenery.
  • Wrap and eat.
Viola! Good, healthy, yet surprisingly filling eats.

( 11:39 AM ) Sarah Jane ~





Monday, August 18, 2003
 

Dingbat!

So, as you all know, Megan is in Africa. She comes back on Wednesday.

The other day, I came home to find a message on our answering machine. The dingbat who'd agreed to pick Megs up from the airport called to say "oh hi, this is [dingbat] calling. I just want to let you know, Megan, that I won't be able to pick you up at the airport. Call a cab and the store will pay for it."

Ummm... oooookay.

Megs is in Africa. With no electricity and no phone. And I don't think she knows how to check the messages from outside the house. And really, if the person who promised to pick you up isn't there, is the first thing you're going to do really going to be phoning your answering machine to check your messages?

Now, it's possible that Megan figured it out, and knew that dingbat may have been leaving town, and arranged with her to leave a message on the machine if that was the case.

Or maybe this woman is just a complete and utter dingbat.

So, since dingbat's out of town, I have no way of getting hold of her to tell her that Megan won't get her message. I can't meet Megan because I don't have a car or the ability to drive it. I am seriously miffed.

So I think I'll call Aerofleet, order a limo, and have the store pay me back for it. Hell, it costs pretty much the same as a cab anyway.

( 11:07 PM ) Sarah Jane ~





Sunday, August 17, 2003
 

Water, Water Everywhere...

...and this is getting strange.

So the other day during the blackout, I went to check my CD player/radio to see what size and number of batteries it took (which turned out to be moot, as EVERYONE had sold out of batteries). When I picked up the player, I was surprised to see a pool of water underneath it, and some sitting in the battery well when I opened it. Not a lot, maybe 1/4 tsp (yes, I bake a lot), but it was definitely inside.

So I checked Megan's CD player. Lifted it up... puddle of water underneath.

Today, I was trying to print out my payment records for some online bill payments, and I went to grab a pile of paper from my scrap paper supply. Shocked, I found a 2-inch water splotch mark (now dry) in the middle of the sheets that went down for almost the whole pile. Where is this pile of paper located, you ask?

Directly beneath the printer.

This is getting totally bizzare. I mean, I could understand it if the appliances were bleeding, a la "The Modern Things", but what does it mean when your appliances start spontaneously leaking water? And could this be the reason for the short in my keyboard that necessitated the purchase of a new one today?

Weeeeird....

( 1:25 AM ) Sarah Jane ~





Friday, August 15, 2003
 

Plunged Into Darkness

Yesterday, after work, I went to Lewiscraft to stock up on supplies for Youth Programming at WorldCon. I paid for the stuff I needed via Interac, and everything else on my mastercard. As I finished the transaction, the clerk handed the bag to me. As my fingers touched it, we were plunged into darkness. As it was an underground mall, it was pretty dark.

Wow, I thought, Did I inadvertently get evil craft supplies or something?

The emergency lighting in the halls came on, and the ladies in Lewiscraft shooed us out. All of the stores, in the brief period of time it took me to get my felt and craft foam out of Lewiscraft, had locked down. The stores lining the bright corridors were dark and empty. It was decidedly creepy. Like a ghost mall.

I took my stuff and headed back up to the street, thinking that I'd walk for a while to someplace that had power, maybe hit HMV and buy some jeans.

Yeah, right.

Right about when I hit Dundas, I realized things weren't going to be that easy. One of the vendors selling sunglasses outside the Eaton Centre had a battery-powered radio, where a crowd of people had gathered to learn that the power outage was total.

Most of the Eastern Seaboard was down. Ottawa, New York, Ohio... Toronto.

It was strange. But kinda cool. As I walked home, I really got a measure of this city.

People off the street, bankers, lawyers, artists, were standing in the middle of the intersections directing traffic. And the drivers were obeying them. These weren't trained personnel, these were just people who realized the cars needed help navigating what had become 4-way stops during rush-hour.

Streetcars stood abandoned in the middle of the street, where they had stopped when the cable grid lost power. Great empty hulks adrift on rivers of concrete. A few of the drivers had moved to the nearest intersections to conduct traffic.

Listening to car radios as I walked, I heard the phrase "plunged into darkness" at least five times. As in "we've just received word that Ottawa is yet another city that has been plunged into darkness." Which, given that it was 4 p.m. on a sunny afternoon, was just a little ridiculous.

The atmosphere in the downtown core was almost like one big street party.

The stores sold out of D-cells really fast. By the time I managed to check what kind of batteries my CD player took, the hardware/grocery down the street was out. So I bought ice-cream instead.

Since I didn't have a radio, I called my sibling in Newmarket to get updates from my Dad's battery-powered boom box. At least, I did until they announced that people should keep the lines free so emergency services could get through. They also said to avoid calling 911 unless it's an emergency.

"I'm hot and it's dark" does not count as an emergency.

Nathaniel managed to get a call to me on the overloaded cell network, and came over. He'd been wishing people "Happy Blackout Day."

We talked for a long time last night. Good stuff. I managed to tell him the big important thing that could mean a serious problem in any relationship I have, and he was totally fine with it. Which made me extremely happy. And profoundly relieved.

The lights are back on now at Bathurst and College, but Bloor and Bathurst is still dark. The power grid is at about 50%, so they're predicting rolling blackouts throughout the day. So I'm trying to type fast and get outta here.

When the sun went down, Nathaniel and I went outside on the deck. In the middle of the blackout, the Bank of Montreal tower still managed to have 2/3 of the floors blazing with light. But that was pretty much it, as far as the skyline went. An enormous yellow harvest moon sat on the horizon. And just to let you know what kind of guy I have found for myself, pretty much the first thing Nathaniel said was "my God, it's full of stars." :o)

An interesting thing happens when the entire Eastern seaboard loses power. We lay down on the picnic table and looked up at the sky, and ended up watching a meteor shower.

When all the lights go off, you can actually see the stars.

( 10:19 AM ) Sarah Jane ~





Thursday, August 14, 2003
 

Tori, Tori, Tori

There's something you forget when listening to recorded music. The most polished, intricate recorded song sounds completely different when you hear it live. When it's playing on CD, you can't feel the music.

Take the piano, for example. On CD it sounds sweet, cultured, refined. Most artists tend to replace the piano with a band when they're recording. But live, when someone starts wailing on a piano, it rips through you.

Little Earthquakes, indeed.

As you may have gathered, I really enjoyed the Tori Amos concert last night, despite the fact that she didn't play "Winter", my favourite Tori song (which is my favourite for two reasons, first because I love that piano solo in the middle and have been known to crank the stereo for that bit alone, and second because that part became the background for the first kiss of two characters I'm particularly fond of writing).

I first discovered this piano phenomenon at Songbook last year, when I saw Chantal Kreviazuk live. Now, I don't actually like her studio tracks. But when it was just her and the piano, I loved it. It's a very powerful instrument.

So, the concert. Ben Folds opened, and he was great (and now that I understand that "Rockin' the Suburbs" is his reaction to Korn, who called him a wuss who only plays "Cheers" music, I appreciate it all the more).

But Tori. Ah, Tori. That was truly awesome. She did do this odd nasal thing on a couple of songs, and after having Megan tell me that Tori plays like she's humping the piano it puts an odd spin on watching her, but I had a blast. She did a good mix of old and new stuff. We got "A Sorta Fairytale" and "Wednesday", but she also did "Cornflake Girl", both songs that reference Neil Gaiman, and "Precious Things" was truly spectacular.

There were some downers that night that had little to do with the concert. Nathaniel ended up getting free tickets that were just a bit better than mine, and we couldn't find anyone to take mine. So we ended up selling them to a scalper. I paid $120 for them. We got $30 from the scalper. Nathaniel said to look at it like we were selling his free tickets instead -- nothing but profit. And after the concert, I had to rush to get the garbage out and ended up ripping my arm open on a protruding section of the chain-link fence out back. It hurt quite a lot. But those were pretty much the only disappointments of an otherwise really good time.

And a side note: Yesterday, I heard the two extremes of gossip. Walking home, I listened to this guy behind me detailing one of his conquests to his friend, referring to the woman (though he didn't ever use that word) in question in such derogatory terms (including multiple deployment of the "see you next Thursday" word I abhor) that I couldn't believe. It was so bad that could see how some women can get turned off men for good. When he started talking about what c---s women were, all I could think was "you're not making much of a case for men, either".

And then, on the streetcar to the concert, these girls behind me and Nathaniel were talking about one girl's relationship with her boyfriend, and about how she basically likes to get mad at him to scare him and keep him in line, etc. etc. etc. It was ridiculous. If these people are the sterling examples of their genders, it's a wonder we ever manage to communicate across the gender barrier.

( 10:40 AM ) Sarah Jane ~





Wednesday, August 13, 2003
 

Remember When

I just finished reading the newest Eve Dallas book, thanks to the wonderful Chris at Bakka. The book is titled Remember When. Yes, you heard me. Not Sparkling in Death or Made in Death, but Remember When. And the reason it has this title is because it's not a J.D. Robb book. It's a book co-written by Nora Roberts and J.D. Robb.

Wait a minute, I hear you say. Aren't they the same person?

Well, yeah. They are.

What she's done is written a full-length Nora Roberts romance centering around a diamond heist, with a traditional romance ending. Then, fifty-three years later, she picks up with a full-length J.D. Robb book dealing with a loose end that comes up and involves the granddaughter of the couple in the first book. Both books are combined in one big volume.

It's weird. But it works. Either one works perfectly well on its own, but is more satisfying if you read the other. And I actually really liked the romance novel, which is rare for me -- I generally don't get anything out of a book unless elves or ghosts or aliens come into it somewhere. But Sheila and Nora Roberts are making me think that I've just been reading bad romance (for instance, their heroines actually have brains, and don't exist simply to meet a guy and abandon their lives to become barefoot and pregnant in the kitchen. That SOOOO pisses me off).

I only wish she'd done more with it. The couple from the first book doesn't appear at all until the wrap-up at the end of the Eve section, and even the granddaughter isn't really involved much. She had the opportunity to really play and entwine her two styles, but she kept the two stories very self-contained. There also wasn't a lot of character development on the Eve/Roarke front. Each previous book has brought one or the other to some new understanding, but this one didn't, really. They sort of ended up at the same place they started. That doesn't mean it wasn't great (hell, I started reading on Monday and I finished last night), but it seemed like she had the opportunity to take this book further and pulled back from it. I would have loved to have seen Max and Laine crash Eve's party, because there's the potential for some really awesome character conflict there.

Ah well. It was still a great read.

And speaking of great reads (smooth segue, no?), Karina's story, "Drowned Men Can't Have Kids", is up at Strange Horizons. Go read it. It's good stuff, and it's free! Whee!

( 10:34 AM ) Sarah Jane ~





Monday, August 11, 2003
 

Blade Dancer Update

Bakka is sold out. The 4 copies the library ordered haven't arrived yet. I am still holding. I am 12 of 14 (sounds like a borg name, doesn't it?). And I had a continuation of the Sarah Danger dream last night. I continued my quest around the city looking for the $300 book, which I have to locate and either read or return before opening Blade Dancer, or reading Blade Dancer will kill me.

It's not at the top of the CN Tower, though there were some pretty impressive battles with the demons who were guarding the stairs leading to the top. Nathaniel has become my sidekick in the dream, though he has longer hair, speaks with an English accent, and strongly advises me against the rash and foolish actions I undertake in pursuit of the $300 book. And I KNOW it's a dream, because I'm wearing leather pants. I hold Sheila entirely to blame for that image. :o)

( 11:47 PM ) Sarah Jane ~


 

Spelunk

There's nothing quite like squeezing through a 36-centimeter gap in a fissure buried 30 feet deep in glacial rock and then getting stuck halfway through to make you think about life, the universe, and everything.

This Saturday, the Hands-on Biodiversity Gallery took a field trip to the Collingwood Scenic Caves, and while they might have been more accurately called the Collingwood Scenic Crevasses, it was still pretty neat.

I was expecting stalactites and stalagmites and things, but they weren't that sort of caves. These were gaps created when huge slabs of shield rock shifted away from each other. Which meant a lot of very high, very blocky, moss-covered rock formations that we lucky tourists got to scramble over, slide down, and explore.

I had a blast.

My favourite part was halfway through the trek. I had discovered very early on that I like climbing stuff. Just give me a hand and foothold, and I'll clamber up pretty much anything. Getting down's a lot harder, and I usually don't think about that part until I'm as high as I can get, but the butt is the most useful (and overlooked) climbing tool a person has, and as long as one is prepared to sacrifice the dignity of one's pants by sliding down a mud-covered rock on one's ass, one usually comes out all right.

So I was all jazzed on the climbing, and we came to the midpoint. All the "stations" had campy names with stories attached, like "lover's rest" and "suicide point" (guess things didn't go too well at "lover's rest"), "Indian council rock", "Indian Chief's Profile", "Petun fortress", etc. Number six was "Fat Man's Misery". Which was, as described above, about thirty feet of tunnel through the rocks that got narrower and narrower, until the narrowest point -- 36 centimeters wide. There's a point at which you're turning a corner, sandwiched between two rock walls with just enough room for your head to clear, when you lose sight of the open space behind you and can't yet see the open space before you, that gets pretty scary. Especially when you get stuck. Fortunately, by pressing my back against the wall and my feet against the opposite and climbing up, I was able to get my breasts (which would be the bits that got stuck) over the really narrow spot, and squeeze out the rest of the way. Thereby avoiding making "fat girl's skeleton" one of the attractions on the tour. God, it was fun.

After a few moments of pathos (like Sharilynn's attempted rescue of a frog caught by one of the seagulls) and some very good fudge, we got back in our cars and began the caravan back to Toronto. We ended up at Real Thailand (my favourite Bloor Street restaurant, my suggestion of course), where we were entertained by good food and Adam's (the 2-year-old son of one of the volunteers) Blues Clues dance. That child is so adorable it should be illegal.

Sunday, traditionally the day of rest, was not. I woke up sore all over from the climbing (it's a good kind of pain, baby!), but there was no time for lounging. Nathaniel came over and we went to the screening of a movie made by some of his friends. This won't mean much to 90% of you, but it reminded me very much of our Grade 10 French movies, only in English and with better camera work.

Okay, okay, in Grade 10, our awesome French teacher let us make home movies rather than presenting skits with our unit vocabulary words. Which, in our class, generally meant 10 minutes of completely non-sequitur dialogue to use up the vocabulary words ("ah, non! Il y a un ETRANGE EXTRATERRESTRE JAUNE dans le BIBLIOTHEQUE!"), folowed by an hour of killing each other off in increasing strange and grisly ways. Usually starring the stupidest group of characters ever to grace the planet, who literally don't notice the bodies they're tripping over. Ah, such fun. Such memories. Anyway, that's what this film reminded me of. Five friends go up to a cottage in the middle of nowhere ("Le Balaclava Rouge, anyone?"), one girl gets killed by a hairdryer, the toaster bleeds, they throw all the electronics into the snow and proceed to have one big orgy. Okay, our French movies didn't go THAT far. I think that might have killed Mme. Cohen.

After the movie, we went to Taste of the Danforth, where we met up with Alexandra, collected fabulous food (including the very eeeevil lokoumades, which you have to pronounce in a sinister evil voice -- looooukomaaaades -- because they're fried dough balls drenched in honey and you can't stop eating them), and took it back for Alexandra's for several hours of very interesting conversation. I love my friends. And I have the best boyfriend ever.

Today was ROM day, which was uneventful except for the sheer business of it, and the frogs in amplexus (which is FUN to explain to a 7-year-old who knows exactly what's going on, but wants to embarrass his mom). And I passed Michael Geddes talking into his cell phone on Bloor Street, which was just weird. Finally picked up my Tori Amos tickets, too -- going on Wednesday with Nathaniel, hurrah!

I am a happy girl this evening.

( 9:21 PM ) Sarah Jane ~





Friday, August 08, 2003
 

Tidbits

Okay, catching up on stuff I want to say...

Last weekend saw the arrival of Thomas. He and Karina came over and we sallied forth to Bakka, where we once again proved why I love that store. We spent ten minutes book shopping, and two hours gossiping writing with Michelle West (the cover of her new book is gorgeous). What makes me love that store even more is the e-mail I got from Chris saying "we've set aside that book you wanted; did you want this ARC of the new Eve Dallas book, too?"

We then stopped off at Mars Food for some of the best greasy-spoon fare in Toronto and introduced Thomas to bubble tea. For those who've never tried it, it's flavoured black or green iced tea (with or without milk) with balls of tapioca in it -- kind of like snapple with gummi bears, unless you get an ice crush, in which case it's like slurpee with gummi bears. Sounds weird, but it's terribly addictive. Then we went back to my house to watch Lilo and Stitch. We concluded that just when you think Pyewacket doesn't get any cuter, he does something adorable that trumps his last moment of cuteness.

Taste of the Danforth is this weekend. Hurray. I have to find out if Alexandra is busy...

There are new Harry Potter pictures up! Here and here I am way too excited about this.

And I finally got up the nerve to query Weird Tales again. I mean, I'm pretty sure they're not going to say "oh my God, she sent us two queries! Quick, burn her manuscript and never read anything from her again!" (hi Karina), but that doesn't stop me from being incredibly nervous about doing it. Gnnng.

I am doing incredibly cool Worldcon stuff. More news on that as it develops.

Fangirl Friday is currently translating the second Inuyasha movie. I am in raptures.

And "In the Blood" will be up on my website in the next week or so.

( 11:44 AM ) Sarah Jane ~





Wednesday, August 06, 2003
 

Toldya

It appears Jen's not the only one being put through the ringer over misdiagnoses of Lyme's Disease. It turns out Amy Tan has the same problem, and it's a huge controversy over in the states. (Thanks to Michael for the heads up)

( 8:14 AM ) Sarah Jane ~


 

Touchdown

Megan called this morning -- she's safely in Africa. Unfortunately, she misjudged the time difference and called before my alarm went off, so things weren't terribly coherent on my end. It takes me a long time to wake up, and if you yank me out of sleep, I can't put two words together. So I couldn't ask her stuff I wanted to -- if the flight was okay, if she's feeding herself properly (yes, I'm a total mom). But she's safe. And I have to call various and sundry of her relatives to let them know. I'm kinda touched that she called me and not her parents. Anyway.

The empty bedroom is almost done, with two small setbacks. The first is that I can't for the life of me figure out how to get the outlet plates back on the outlets -- yeah, I know you put the screw through the little hole, but it doesn't seem to be long enough -- yet it's the same screw that came out of the thing when we took the plates off. Grrr. And there's one outlet that's totally fucked up. I'm not touching it -- I'll end up electrocuting myself. We may have to call Mark. Joy.

I've been amusing myself reading Ali Davis's True Porn Clerk Stories. A few months ago, my sib nearly got employed at a video store, until he discovered that it was an adult video store. This journal was all I could think of. Ali is a very gifted, funny writer, and I was quite sad to reach the end of her video store odyssey. I found myself laughing out loud as I read the journal. Especially at stuff like this:

While I'm on the topic, I'll mention another quick gender-based misconception: when men refer to big, satisfying cocks, they talk in terms of length. Case in point, Mr. Eighteen Inches. Women, to the extent that they care at all, care about girth. When was the last time you heard a woman say "Wow, I bet that guy could really bruise my cervix!"?

Speaking of fun links, the sib sent me a hilarious Japanese ping-pong clip. You have to see it to believe it. It's like Crouching Tiger, Hidden Ping Pong.

Also, check out this Batman fan film.

( 8:14 AM ) Sarah Jane ~


 

I Am A Wuss

or

Why I Love My Kitten

I am a wuss. I almost deleted last night's post three times, and am still worrying about it.

I hate it when my friends fight. It really, really distresses me. Which is why the FM blowup upset me enough that I needed to write that big long rambling post trying to sort out my feelings.

I almost deleted it because I'm afraid someone is going misread something and get upset, even though there's nothing in there intended to upset or offend anyone. Losing friends I care about is one of my greatest fears, hence the desire to delete that post. I'm willing to censor myself rather than take even the slightest, infintessimal risk that something I wrote might have unintentionally offended someone, even though the jist of what I wrote is "I think everyone's great, I wish we could all be friends."

But because of something someone dear to me told me recently, I'm leaving the post. I do censor myself a little too much. And I do need to be able to express myself on uncomfortable topics without hyperventilating and hiding under the bed. But I am moving the cool stuff that got buried back up above that thread.

But that doesn't stop me from worrying. Which is why I love my kitten. I was upset and stomach-churny when I went to bed last night. Pye knew. S/he plonked himself (I'm sick of the pronoun game, so he's staying a boy until we know for sure what gender he is) down next to me, purring like a small outboard, and stayed there all night. Which is a first for my cat -- he makes Mike Myers' hyper hypo character on Saturday Night Live look mellow. I can't express the joy this cat has brought me.

( 8:13 AM ) Sarah Jane ~


 

Stuck in the Middle With You

Whoa. You step away for a while...

There appears to have been some major shit going down on Forward Motion. Having read through it for a while, I have to say that it reminds me very much of the last big blowup that saw many people leave, and once again, I can see both sides of the thing.

This sort of situation is exactly the kind of thing that makes me want to run and hide under the covers with my ten-foot-pole, because the problem with seeing both sides of the situation is that nobody on either side ever wants to hear that both sides have a point, and both sides have been wronged. I see the whole debacle (as I do the last one) as a great big huge misunderstanding that got out of control, but once you cross a certain point, it's too late to go back.

I'm still friends with those who were on either side of the last blowup. And I still have enormous respect for people on both sides. One of the people whose opinion matters most in the world to me, one of the few people I trust implicity, and who I consider a close personal friend, did and said things during the last debate that I thought were completely wrong and unfair. So how can I still respect her? Because I could see her side of the argument. I know her, so I could understand why she was upset. Even if I didn't agree with it.

I've gone through some of what certain individuals during this debate have gone through. Losing my moderator status for inactivity at FM last year was a huge blow -- Jami was there when the axe fell, she can attest. It came at a time in my life when everything (finances, health, etc.) was falling apart. I'd been a moderator since the community started and it was one of the few constants I had left at a time when my life was in a state of complete flux, which is why it completely pulled the rug out from under me. It happened very quickly and without any warning, and pretty much devestated me. I wrote Holly about it, and the response I got was a lot more compassionate and understanding than the initial form-letter dismissal, and helped me deal with a few things. But I was still shocked, hurt, and competely floored.

So then I went away and thought for a while.

Had Holly given me some indication beforehand that I wasn't pulling my weight as a moderator, I probably would have tried to compensate. But at that time in my life, I really couldn't have afforded it in the long run. So really, it was for the best.

Besides which, I never, ever held the act itself against Holly, because I wasn't as active as I should have been. My life was going to hell in a handbasket, so I couldn't do the things that were expected of me. There was, unfortunately, some miscommunication about precisely what was expected of me, so I thought that I was still okay, mod-wise. Right up until I tried to log into the moderator's board and discovered I'd been locked out. It felt like I'd come back to the office from medical leave and found the doors locked, my desk cleared out, and a pink slip pinned to the top of the stack. But though I really I didn't like how she'd done it, I could understand why Holly did it.

I never told her how much it had upset me. Though I was deeply hurt, I knew she had a lot of crap going on in her life at the time -- she didn't need me and my histrionics adding to it. That would be more of the seeing both sides thing -- I still tend to do it, even when I'm on one of those sides. So I kept silent, for Holly's sake. Because I didn't want to hurt her any more than she had already been hurt by certain events in her life, and I knew that telling her how she'd made me feel would have cut her.

For my sake, I left the community for a long, long time, to try to come to grips with my feelings. Going back hurt too much. I would burst into tears every time I returned to the login page, and had to leave. So I took my time and thought. And I realized something else.

I still liked Forward Motion. And I still liked Holly. Despite everything that had happened.

I owe a lot to both. It was Holly who saved me when my grandfather all but shattered my aspirations as a writer, and I seriously doubt that I would still be writing today had she not held out a hand when she had no reason to, and pushed me back where I belonged. Ten small words in a private message changed the direction of my life. I will always, always be grateful for that.

Holly has done a lot of things I have disagreed with over the years. Strongly. But I never stopped respecting her, because I saw her doing for other writers what she did for me.

I feel for the people who have left the community, because I've been there and I can understand the hurt and frustration they're going through.

I feel for Holly, because I've seen the work she has put into the community, and I know her heart is in the right place.

Don't tell me I can't feel for both. Because I do.

I don't spend a lot of time at FM anymore. But I still refer writers who are just starting out to it.

My needs have changed over the years. Oddly enough, I didn't really realize it until Ad Astra, during our Breaking Into Print panel. Pretty much every one of us started out in online writing communities, and recommended them to beginning writers. Nobody on the panel was still involved with any.

I reached a point, round about my moderator dismissal, when my priorities shifted. I needed to focus on my writing, to really get something DONE. I dropped out of Forward Motion for a few months. And finished Elysium.

Do I have a point? Not really. I'm rambling to work out my own confused thoughts on the issue.

FM is really big now. If I do have need for a writing community these days, it's for something a lot smaller and more intimate. But more than anything else, I need to focus. I really, truly feel that with Elysium, I'm on the verge of something big. But my life is STILL completely and utterly insane, and if I'm going to stand any chance of ever finishing this trilogy, I need to cut out unnecessary distractions. And as I learned last year, I can't keep up with both FM and my writing. Something had to give. And it was my involvement in the community.

I miss the Midnight Society. Back when FM was 20 people or so, staying up till all odd hours in chat with Zette and a handful of others, enduring long stretches of silence as we worked on our writing.

I became a moderator because I wanted to help people who are farther down the mountain than me. And I still do. But I'm doing it in different ways these days. More of a one-on-one thing than trying to help out several dozen at a time.

I'll still be around at Forward Motion, because I still believe in the spirit that began it. I'll still post when I see a topic that really inspires me. I'll still hang out in Think Tank (when my insane schedule allows). But my role at FM is more as a lurker these days than as an active poster.

And Elysium 2 is at 35,000 words and climbing.

( 1:44 AM ) Sarah Jane ~





Sunday, August 03, 2003
 

Scatterlings of Africa

Megan's off to South Africa. She left this morning, but she's still in the air -- it's a 14 hour flight, so she'll land about 3 a.m.

She took something with her, too -- a piece of paper with Jen's name on it. She's taking Jenny's name to the sangomas, and they're going to perform a healing on her.

In Megan's own words, this is where she's going and what she's doing:

[I will be in] Kwabiyela Village, Kwazulu Natal, South Africa-- a community where people drop like flies from HIV/AIDS, where they have no clean drinking water or basic amenities like toothpaste. Yet, villagers are also members of a rich oral culture-- Zulu culture-- and enjoy its enduring ways, like traditional song, dance, drumming, and familiarity among neighbors. There is the occasional clash of old vs. new, but for the most part this community, buried in the bush, lives as did the ancestors.

Zulu society is a spirituality hotbed, all the more attractive to contemporary Western spectators for having survived centuries. The Zulu practise a form of tribal shamanism they call the 'sangoma' way, which roughly translates to 'medicine woman.'

Sangomas are trained in the arts of divination, spirit channelling and preparation of traditional medicines.They have for centuries tended Zulu community's physical and spiritual well-being. A shamanic practise by the same name historically exists in countries neighboring South Africa.

This is the practise I have studied for four years from an expatriate sangoma living in Toronto. She has declared me fit for initiation in her home village, and so a plane ticket was bought this last Friday, a mud hut built, and soon I will be a certifiable sangoma, one of less than ten 'whities' known to have completed this initiation process.

I am a 'twasa'-- a sangoma initiate. I will be staying in a mud hut built for me and my initiation ceremonies. There will be two ceremonies taking place the second and third weekends in August. One is a water ceremony, one a land ceremony. Both will include sleep deprivation, possible trancing, incantations to the spirit guides (per the sangoma belief system), dancing, drumming, and the participation of all sangomas.

I will be undergoing daily readings delivered by the sangomas to gauge my spiritual development and my skills as a 'healer.' I will be taking traditional root medicines to purify my body and spirit, and I will be learning how to prepare these as well-- where to find roots, how to grind, how to prepare, and how to prescribe. I will be participating in a ceremony where I cover myself in red clay and dance with abandon. A local chap has been hired to cook for me and my fellow twasas (I am one of three this year) so that I may focus exclusively on this work. The grub will run the gamut of home-cooked bread with water and sugar to freshly plucked cooked chicken. I will wake, on the chance occasions I am allowed to sleep, to the view of mist rising over the hills of this mountainous region on the coast of the other side of the world, with a steaming mug of tea in my hand. Beyond the abovenoted, I do not know what will happen.


Like all things of this nature, belief is required in order for the healing to work. Over the year that I've known her, I've heard things from Megan and seen her prayers answered often enough to make me believe in her, which is why I believe she can help Jen. And it doesn't necessarily mean a miraculous spontaneous healing -- it could fully well be having Jen's ODSP appeal granted. It's worked for Megan thus far -- why not Jen?

But it couldn't hurt if everyone else pitches in and sends good thoughts Jenny's way. A worldwide network of goodwill for Jenny. How cool is that?

( 9:46 PM ) Sarah Jane ~





Sarah Jane Elliott
The often frustrating progress of my life and writing...

(Once known as "The Mystic's Dream", now known as "Dream of the Dolphin", but inclined to change title depending on what's stuck in my head)

Okay, I liked "Confessions of a Post Graduate Pity Whore" a lot more than I thought I would. That line is still hilarious. But I've started writing again, so it's time to go back to before. :o)





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War for the Oaks

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A Thousand Words for Stranger

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