If I think about it much, when I think about it, I generally would attribute this sort of thing to being autistic. I mean, I'm sure there are plenty of people who aren't autistic who do this too, but probably not many who go out of their way to do it for fun. I could be wrong here, of course.
Which is where this gets interesting. I went out to bring my mother her coffee, and before I went in I spent a few minutes with our crape myrtle. And my mother said I was just like her mother.
My mother has a very complicated relationship with me and autism. On the one hand, she swears she knew when I was a small infant. On the other hand, she is eager to downplay any signs of autism that I might ever bring up - especially if they're traits shared with anybody in the family other than her father, who really was undeniably autistic. Either she denies that the traits exist, or she denies that they're quite strong, or she denies that they have anything to do with autism whatsoever. (There are some things she can't do this to, like the topographical agnosia, but otherwise she gives it the good ol' college try!)
So for her to criticize what I'm pretty sure is an autistic trait, and attribute it to her mother instead of her father - well, I could've used this as a segue into my ongoing attempts to speak with her on the subject of the broader autistic phenotype, assortative mating, and our family. But given recent events, I decided instead to talk about exfoliating bark and how I'm sure the reduction of dead bark will decrease the risk of a forest fire in our backyard.
They went to a vet before going to their new foster home, and according to the update I got they are in comparatively great health - no FIV, no feline leukemia, and mostly recovered from earlier infection. Unfortunately, the one eye will not improve much from how it is now (there seems to have been some trauma, not just an infection), but the vet said it shouldn't affect her too much either. That's all we can hope for, and not that surprising.
My grandfather's father was born in Lodz. He was the eldest of six siblings, three sisters, three brothers; the family owned a textile mill in the city and the father was a Talmudic scholar of some repute. My great-grandfather was expected to continue in his father's religious footsteps; instead, after a stint in the Imperial Russian Army (from which he must have deserted, because he sure didn't serve twenty-five years), he became what my grandfather once memorably described as a "Zolaesque freethinker" and emigrated to America in 1912. One of his brothers followed him; though we're no longer in contact with them (a little thing about declaring my mother ritually dead when she married my father), his descendants live in Florida. Another brother is buried in Israel, though I'm not sure how or when he got there—his older children were born in Lodz, his later ones in Tel Aviv. None of the sisters made it out of Poland alive. The middle one I have almost no information about, except that Lodz is listed as her place of death. (Her children survived: they too turn up later in Israel.) The eldest and the youngest died—as far as I know, with their families—in Chełmno and Auschwitz. These are the cousins who feel like closer ghosts than they should, dying in 1942 and 1945, because their descendants would have been no farther from me in blood than gaudior. They are loose ends, like other family stories. I don't know what there is to be known of them anymore.
Because the exhibit is closing in a week, my mother and I went to the MFA this afternoon to see Memory Unearthed: The Lodz Ghetto Photographs of Henryk Ross. If you live in the Boston area, I don't say it's a light day out, but it's worth your time. Ross was one of the few survivors of the Lodz Ghetto, a staff photographer employed by the Judenrat. He was supposed to take the nice pictures of the ghetto, to document how productively and well the Jews were getting along under Nazi supervision; he used his license to take the ones that were not so nice, dead-carts instead of bread-carts, chain-link and barbed wire, the sick and the starving, the broken walls of a synagogue. He documented the resistance of living, which sometimes looked like defiance and sometimes like collaboration: the slight, quietly smiling man who rescued the Torah scroll from the smashed-brick ruins of the synagogue, the young wife and plump child of a Jewish policeman like the ones seen—perhaps he's among them—assisting a crowd of Jewish deportees aboard the boxcars that will take them to Auschwitz. Pale Jude stars are so omnipresent in this black-and-white world that even a scarecrow wears one, as if to remind it to confine its trade to non-Aryan fields. Ross took about six thousand photographs total; in the fall of 1944, as the ghetto was being liquidated, he buried the negatives as a kind of time capsule, not expecting to survive himself to recover them. He was still alive and still taking pictures of the depopulated ghost town the ghetto had become when the Red Army liberated it in January 1945. His face cannot be seen in the photograph of him reclaiming his archive because he's the figure at the center of the grinning group, the one bending to lift a crusted box from the dug-up earth. Groundwater had rendered about half the negatives unsalvageable, but rest could be developed, warped, nicked, bubbled, and sometimes perfectly clear, their damaged emulsion showing scars and survival. He published some in his lifetime. He never arranged the complete series to his satisfaction. My mother would have seen him on television in 1961 when he testified against Eichmann. The MFA has a clip of an interview with him and his wife Stefania née Schoenberg—his collaborator and another of the ghetto's 877 Jewish survivors—eighteen years later in Israel, describing how he took his covert photographs hiding his camera inside his long coat, how just once he snuck into the railway station at Radogoszcz to record the last stages of a deportation, the freight train to the "frying pan" of Auschwitz itself. He died in 1991. It is said that he never took a picture again.
(I know there are philosophical questions about photographs of atrocity: how they should be looked at, what emotions they may have been intended to evoke, to what degree it is or is not appropriate to judge them as art. I'm not very abstract here. They were taken to remember. You look at them to make sure you do. What you feel is your own business; what you do with the knowledge of the history had damn well better concern other people.)
My great-grandfather's sisters would have been deported from the Lodz Ghetto. Their death dates even match the major waves of deportation to their respective camps. I have no idea what either of them looked like. I have seen maybe two photos each of my grandfather's parents: aunts and uncles, nothing. I'm not saying the photos don't exist. My grandfather had a sister; she may have inherited a better pictorial record. But I haven't seen it. And looking for people who look like my grandfather is no help; Henry Kissinger went through a period of looking like my grandfather and that was awkward for everybody. Any older woman might have been either one of them, any older man one of their husbands, any young people their children, any children their grandchildren. None of them might have been my family. Maybe theirs were among the images destroyed by the winter of 1944, as unrecoverable as their bodies. Maybe they were never captured on film at all. I wouldn't know. I don't know. I pored over faces and thought how beautiful so many of these people were (not beautiful because of their suffering: bone and expression, the kinds of faces that are beautiful to me), how many of them looked like both sides of my mother's family. Almost no one was identified by name. Maybe no one knows these people by name anymore. I hope that's not true.
You can look through the contents of Henryk Ross' archive yourself. They are, like most photographs, historical and modern prints both, better in person. We left the museum and had dinner at Bronwyn both because we lucked out parking two blocks from the restaurant in the middle of a street fair and because it was Eastern European food and it felt symbolic that we were here to eat it, even if I am pretty sure that a Hungarian-inflected chorizo dog is food of my people only in the sense that I personally would order it again because it tasted great. I did some badly overdue grocery shopping and caught the closing performance of the PMRP's Murders and Scandals: Poe and Doyle and spent nearly the entire cast party upstairs reading the scripts for the second through the fourth seasons of Babylon 5 (1993–98) and as much of the fifth season as doesn't suck. Autolycus fell asleep on my lap almost as soon as I sat down at my computer and I haven't been able to move from this chair for hours. I can't imagine what the world looks like in which I have so many more cousins of the degree of Gaudior, although I know that I am tired of fictional versions in which neither of us would even be here (the same goes for other atrocities, imagined worse for purposes of entertainment). Maybe in that other world, we have more family photographs. Maybe we're not in contact with them, either. Maybe I still don't have faces to go with the names. It doesn't matter if they were all strangers, though, the people from this afternoon and more than seventy years ago: they were alive. They are worth remembering. Especially now, they are worth remembering why.
There was a book I read in high school, maybe 10+ years ago, and I'm struggling to recall the author and title.
I don't remember the main plot or character names, just a few scenes and descriptions the author used.
It's an older book and it's cover style was similar to other older books I read at the time like Through Wolf's Eyes by Jane Lindskold and The Outstretched Shadow by Mercedes Lackey and James Mallory, therefore the book I'm searching for might've been published in the early 2000s like those 2 books.
The book had a hardcover and I think it showed a town by the sea with a ship to the left (but my memory might be off)
The first thing I remember is that I think the story starts with a town by the sea. There is a mention of the first strawberries of the year being brought to the market, that people will be clamoring for them. The author compares the fruit to rubies and then says they are nearly as valuable.
The story changes perspective and kinda jumps around. I remember it being told from a guys perspective and then sometimes by a girl.
I also remember the author describing in passing how one character witnesses a small figure of a woman pinned by two guys while a third rapes her.
I also remember there were these traveler people like gypsies that came during that time of year to perform and entertain. That later hide a mysterious woman who is described as very beautiful with nearly white hair, creamy skin, etc. There was a guy who desired her a lot and wanted her as a wife but the gypsies kept him away from her until near the end of the story where we find out she's the sister of someone (either a god or a king, someone important but I can't remember).
I faintly recollect that the gypsies give the male protagonist something to help him out but can't do anything more to help him. I think he might've been one of them but he was orphaned and I think he has magic too.
Lastly the scene that I can recall vividly is when the girl protagonist is injured, her hands and side of her face are burned. Later this old woman heals her using fire and a knife to "carve" and reshape her fingers since the fire fused them together. While the old woman is doing this another character shows up, sees the knife, freaks and kills the old woman. Her last words to him are something like "don't you know it's bad luck to interrupt a healing." The old woman dies and the girls burns are healed along with her 'new' fingers.
--If anyone can help me find this book I would be so grateful. I'm sorry if it's not a lot to work with!
Things without deadlines (fun):
* Stroll in the Botanic Gardens (I didn't do this but did go read in the park near our house)
Things without deadlines (productive):
* Celebrate the 1st anniversary of Story Hospital (!)
* Call insurance company about that bill
* Call doctor's office about that prior auth
* Remake OT appointment for next week
* Do a family Readercon debrief/postmortem
One of the things that has been making me furious about sexual harassment lately–secondary to all the other things that make me furious about it–is the attention tax it imposes on women. The time spent figuring out whether there’s enough evidence for us to be taken seriously this time, whether the people who were in the “surely you misinterpreted” and “that doesn’t mean what it blatantly means” camp last time will finally take us seriously, the time spent recovering from someone shouting in our faces and someone else grabbing our asses, the time sharing stories and pooling information and cleaning up messes and figuring out what to do, what we can do, what we have the power to do. That is time not spent on other things that are frankly a whole hell of a lot more interesting.
When it’s in convention terms, the time spent discussing who did what and what to do and letting the adrenaline settle and coping is time not spent on ideas for books and stories and where to go with them. It is very directly a tax on attention that could and should be going toward work. And it makes me exhausted and resentful, and then I try to corral my attention back to my work, because that is a far, far better place for it to be. I have directly observed that when I am at a con where people are dealing with an ongoing situation of this type, I come back with far, far less in the way of inspired notes for new projects–not just coming away drained instead of energized, but the specifics of what business are we doing here, where is our attention going.
I’m lucky. I know a lot of good men. I know a lot of good straight, white men. One of the benefits of this is that when a straight, white dude is an asshole, I am clear that it is artisanal assholery that he is hand-crafting by choice, not a trait he can’t avoid by his demographics. And a lot of good straight, white men have been stepping up to share the work of dealing with sexual harassment on a community level. I appreciate it. I do. But that is a choice they are making. Statistically, on average, the nonconsensual part, the part where you have to cope with the fallout of being harassed again, the part where it happens several times in a row and then it’s on your mind and you go into the next professional situation having to have a plan for how to cope–that’s a drain on your time and attention that you cannot have back, that other people can help with structurally but not in the moment. They can donate their time but not hand you back yours, not give you back those hours and days of working on the situation and processing and coping. It can happen to men. It does happen to men. And as one woman I know never loses an opportunity to point out, it does not happen to every woman. But statistically, on average, it is an attention tax that falls much, much more heavily on women, for things that we did not ask for and cannot change.
It’s not just sexual harassment. This is not the only attention tax, and I don’t mean to talk as though it is. Racist bullshit and the people who visit it upon people of color? That is, among other worse things, an attention tax on those people of color. Having to cope with accessibility issues and prejudice against the disabled? Attention tax. Homophobia and other forms of anti-queer assholery? Attention tax. Navigating the world while neurodiverse, even in ways that do not feel like a disability internally, among people who are going to be utter jerks to any hint of non-neurotypicality? Attention tax. And while I’ve talked about men and women above, the amount of attention tax that falls on gender-nonconforming and non-binary people gets mind-bogglingly larger the more gender-policing the subculture they’re interacting with gets. One of the fundamental questions is: how much jerkitude are people going to blithely shovel on you for being you and then skip along with their day, and how much will that pull away from the focus you need to do your stuff that you do.
Do I imagine I’m the first to observe this? Hardly. But “show don’t tell” is hardly new advice, either, and writers get blog posts out of that several times a year. What I’m saying to you is: this is affecting the work of people you know and care about. All the time. It doesn’t have to. It is literally all entirely voluntary. The thing I said above about artisanal bullshit: last month I got very tired of people saying “so that’s a thing that happened” when they were describing a choice someone made. So let’s not do that. Let’s not ascribe to fundamental forces things that are actual bad choices people are making.
And also: people who are doing work through all these attention taxes, who are managing to push it aside and fight their way through to focusing on making something awesome: I see you. I appreciate you. I’m sorry it’s like this. I keep hoping that some of the draining work will gain us some ground and it will be long-term less necessary. But in the meantime, thanks for clawing back some of your own in the face of it. It’s so hard, and it matters so much.
And to top it, the charge is "escaping from custody and possessing a controlled substance and weapon" which is bad, yes, but not bad enough to justify my having to wade through a swamp of cops just to walk the dogs - much less the police breaking into my house, etc.
Later in the series, she discovers that she has a second power of reading the color of people's auras, which is relatively rare.
I think the title had something with "Azure" in it, though I could be wrong. I remember the cover being a photograph of the girl, with a pastel background.
When asked how he's feeling, he said: "How do I look like I'm feeling? Relieved."
LOL, I bet!
Sanders read a statement from Trump at the press briefing this afternoon.
"I am grateful for Sean's work on behalf of my administration and the American people. I wish him continued success as he moves on to pursue new opportunities. Just look at his great television ratings," Trump said in the statement.
Dear god, it's like an Onion article, but more so. But listen, Trump, you wanna see great ratings? Just wait until Spicer publishes his salacious tell-all. Bestseller. (He better have a salacious tell-all in the works.)
I'm just disappointed that he made his decision first and then went on the air. I really was hoping to see him give up on national TV. Sigh.
Link: A look inside the USS Constitution’s restoration. (Note: the Boston Globe has a paywall, but I believe that non-subscribers can read up to five articles for free.)
The complete Derek Jarman, Super 8 shorts and music videos included. Herzog's Fitzcarraldo (1982), because it has always confused me that you can get the documentary from Criterion but not the film itself. Anything by Ulrike Ottinger, but especially Johanna d'Arc of Mongolia (1989) and Taiga (1992), which one could and should pair. Some kind of box set of Dennis Potter, making sure not to leave out the long-banned original TV version of Brimstone and Treacle (1976). Wayne Wang and Paul Auster's Smoke (1995). Some reasonable amount of Peter Greenaway, but The Pillow Book (1996) and Prospero's Books (1991) in their proper aspect ratio should head the list. Fred Zinnemann's Act of Violence (1948), a knockout noir about memory and atrocity with far less of a reputation than it deserves. Max Ophüls' The Reckless Moment (1949), one of the most devastating—and feminist—noirs I've ever seen. John Ford's The Long Voyage Home (1940), Eugene O'Neill's favorite film realization of any of his plays. Ben Wheatley's A Field in England (2013). And while I'm dreaming of ponies, The 5,000 Fingers of Dr. T (1953).
—There are other movies I'd like to see from Criterion, of course. Robin Hardy's The Wicker Man (1973), especially considering the plethora of versions that have existed over the years (and may still be buried under the M4). I don't know if they'd go for Roy Ward Baker's The October Man (1947) unless it was part of a set of British noir, but seriously, how bad would that be? If they can announce an upcoming release of Agnieszka Smoczyńska's The Lure (2015)—the day after my birthday, I appreciate it—surely they could provide me with a nice edition of Marcin Wrona's Demon (2015). I'm sort of confused they've never done anything by Dorothy Arzner. I'm really confused they haven't already done the Wachowskis' Bound (1996). And so on. Some of it is the definitive home release idea, but a lot of these movies I would just like to be able to show people more easily than 35 mm or unpredictable flybys on TCM.
And today the kittens have started using the litterbox. They've also stopped avoiding the door, which means I had to chase down Kid Blink and return her to her room. But she's definitely getting more used to humans - catching her was trivially easy.
Her dad has been caught. It must've happened in the morning, because as recently as late last night, when Michele dropped me off, there were cops peering in the car windows.
Conversation from the hospital:
Me: Oh, hey, Mommy, did you speak to your brother yet?
Mom: Yeah, I called him last week.
Me: Okay, but do you think you should call him soon?
Mom: I was going to call him Saturday. That's his birthday.
Michele: Oh, wonderful! "Hi, happy birthday, and by the way...!"
Mom: Oh, it's a minor stroke!
Michele: "Good news, bro, I had a stroke of luck!"
I’m back from Boston! I had a lovely time going to Readercon and writing and seeing friends and riding back and forth on the T and wandering up and down Mass Ave. I am now convinced that wandering up and down Mass Ave is a substantial part of what you do in Boston. Things are there. Also, every time you come out of the Harvard T, there is Greer Gilman, so it is written and so it must be.
But other, less eternal things are written, and you can read them! Such as this interview about my story in the July/August issue of F&SF. Interview with me! Things you might want to know! or maybe not, but there it is anyway.
I answered these interview questions in the spring, and one of the things they’re showing me now is that life moves fast. Well. I knew that. And if it’s going to move fast and smell all right while it goes, I’d better get a load of laundry in. More, much more, soon, now that I’m home for awhile.
And while we were gone dealing with this, the cops broke into our house to search for our escaped neighbor. Which is ridiculous - they didn't have a warrant, and they certainly didn't have probable cause, and they definitely did not have our consent to a search.
I must say, they're really pulling out all the stops here. The cops, the state troopers, a joint NY/NJ task force, a helicopter... all this for some dude who ran out of his house, handcuffed, in his undies. It's either overkill, or they're hiding something big.
A girl is taking a bath and closes her eyes and then is being strangled. After she survived being strangled, she finds herself in a forest. She has slipped into another dimension. She has slipped out of this world into another world. And the girl that was in that world is in her tub in our world. Her boyfriend and boyfriend's uncle realize that isn't her and so they have to go into a hole in space to go and rescue her.
I had heard absolutely nothing of Guillermo del Toro's The Shape of Water (2017) until this afternoon, but the trailer makes it look like something I should very definitely see in December. It looks like William Alland and Jack Arnold's Creature from the Black Lagoon (1954) retold through Jane Yolen's "The Lady and the Merman," which has haunted me since elementary school when I first read Neptune Rising: Songs and Tales of the Undersea Folk (1982). It looks sea-deep.
Speaking of oceanic things for which I may existentially blame Caitlín R. Kiernan: Delphine Cencig, "Poulpe Fiction."
In fact, I have another doctor's appointment tomorrow.
1. spatch sent me this handy-dandy list: "Times Doctor Who Was Ruined Forever." The site is snarky and some of their tags are jerkass, but the article itself is gold. "21/03/1981 – The best Doctor ever is replaced by a vet. Doctor Who dies."
2. Following my belated discovery of Jack Buchanan, I am pleased to see that the HFA will be showing Ernst Lubitsch's Monte Carlo (1930) on Friday. I wonder if I have ever actually seen Jeanette MacDonald.
3. I had no idea one of the performers of "The Grass Is Always Greener" was Lauren Bacall (and I think I had forgotten the song came from a musical by Kander and Ebb, although listening to its brassy swing, I don't know who else it could have been). Standing Room Only on WERS used to play it all the time. I like how her voice softens on the repeated line That's wonderful, but her unimpressed What's so wonderful? could pass for Elaine Stritch. This makes me desperately sad that Bacall never recorded "The Ladies Who Lunch."
4. This is a gorgeous photoset, but I would love to see the on-set photos from the shoot. Like, the backstage stuff. People just standing around on snack breaks, being Klimt paintings.
5. This was true last weekend as well, but I was at Readercon and couldn't do anything about it: spatch swapped in for one of the hosts of the PMRP's Murders and Scandals: Poe and Doyle at the last minute, so I'll see him this weekend on one of the nights I'm not seeing Jack Buchanan.