mmerriam: (Default)

Originally published at Michael Merriam. Please leave any comments there.

CaberABLE – I will be performing a 15 minute piece as part of an evening of wonderful cabaret. Saturday, November 5th, 2016 in the JSB TekBox at Cowles Center for Dance and the Performing Arts. 528 Hennepin Ave, Minneapolis, MN 55403.   Show starts at 7:30 pm. Event sponsored by Patrick’s Cabaret and VSA Minnesota.

Word Brew: The Minnesota Speculative Fiction Writers Showcase: I will be part of this annual event showcasing Minnesota authors of science fiction, fantasy, and horror. Sunday, November 20th at Acadia Cafe, 329 Cedar Ave S, Minneapolis, MN 55454. Show starts at 3:00 pm.

Not So Silent Planet Podcast. I be recording an episode with them in late November. Once the podcast is available to the public, I will provide a link.

mmerriam: (Blind)
This is everyone's reminder that the Minnesota Fringe Festival production I am taking part in opens this Thursday, July 31st with 5 performances at the Minneapolis Theatre Garage -711 West Franklin Ave, Minneapolis, Minnesota 55405. Tickets are $12 and you need a Fringe Festival button, available at the venue for $4

Showtimes are:
Thursday, 7/31 @ 5:30 p.m.
Saturday, 8/2 @ 10:00 p.m.
Wednesday, 8/6 @ 8:30 p.m.
Saturday, 8/9 @ 7:00 p.m.
Sunday, 8/10 @ 1:00 p.m.

Invisibility tops the superpower list . . . but what is lost when we’re not seen? From a writer fearing his own erasure to a young man attempting to hide his transgender self in a monastery, it’s two true stories by two Minnesota-based writers in one can’t-see show.

Their stories—which are quite different, on the surface—are intertwined in one unified performance.

Michael Merriam fears that his loss of sight will make him invisible to those around him. “It all started with the fliers,” he says, describing the people passing out fliers advertising shows, political candidates, or grass-roots causes that begin to scurry past him when they see his cane.

Christy Marie Kent tries to become invisible by entering a monastery, thinking that hiding from women will cure her from wanting to become a woman. When this fails, she gives in and transitions to womanhood. “My physical transformation begins with this, hormone pills created from the estrogen-rich urine of pregnant mares. On the bright side, the sweet candy coating almost disguises the taste of horse pee.”

Explore with them the depths of the human spirit. Discover the ability to make the best possible lives for themselves—for ourselves.

Isn’t this what we all want?
http://www.fringefestival.org/2014/show/?id=2786
mmerriam: (Hide)
I've been attending Convergence since 2002. I've watched it grow and morph, watched it struggle and triumph over those struggles. Watched it become the nearly 7000 member convention it has become. Convergence has been pretty good to me, having me as an invited participant for the last few years and hosting several of my book release parties. I sell twice as many books at Convergence as I do at any other Twin Cities convention.

And now I have to walk away.

It has simply become too much for the blind writer and fan to deal with. Too much noise, too much crowds, too much drunken twenty-somethings. Just…too much.

For the last few years, I've struggled more and more at Convergence. Just the logistics of packing and preparing for Convergence is stressful. The line to pick up badges seems to be getting longer and slower every year. The load into the hotel is always hot and sweaty (The con is over July 4th weekend) and the load out takes forever because of the elevator problems. Ask me about the night I climbed 22 flights of stairs. Ask me how faster, younger able bodied people would happily charge forward and cram into the thing before those of us with canes or chairs can even start forward, squeezing us out in their mad dash to get aboard. Tough luck, gimp.

But it's the crowds that finally killed the convention for me.

Crowds are a fact of life at larger conventions, but it's something I struggle to deal with to the point of sometimes getting so overwhelmed that I give up and go up to the room to hide. Now granted, I'm an introvert and at conventions I try to be "on" as much as possible--smiling, chatting, being social--which is exhausting to me. So I dive back into the room to recharge.

But the crowds, oh the crowds.

People at conventions don't pay attention to their surroundings, they’re too busy talking and looking at all the shiny and at Convergence they are packed shoulder-to-shoulder in the hallways and it doesn't matter if I'm using the cane, all I'm doing is hitting people who glance at the cane and then move on as I hit some other oblivious con-goer. Any moment I'm in the hallways and trying to get around on my own is fraught with peril -- near-misses, people tripping over the cane, and accidentally body-checking strangers into walls. It is especially bad with small children, who tend to dash one direction while looking the other, often right under my feet. I don't even go into the dealer's room at Convergence. It presents all the same problems as above, now with bonus narrow aisles and displays lying in ambush, waiting for the hapless blind guy to stumble into them. Going into the dealer's room (or art show) without assistance is impossible and with assistance still too difficult to manage.

The final thing the crowds tend to do is "blind" me. I'm already struggling with not being able to see much of anything in a rapidly changing environment, but the noise--especially around the party rooms (which I've learned to avoid)--basically leaves me without my other primary way of telling me what is happening around me. If I can't see clearly, and I can't hear clearly, what chance do I have? I've had to drop out of some things I wanted to do, simply because it became too hard on me in those situations to deal with the environment. There have been several moments where I quite literally froze in place because I lost my bearings and could not navigate my surroundings safely. It is a frustrating thing. It has gotten so bad that the year before last, I froze up in a crowd to the point that I simply couldn't move—couldn't even pull my cellphone and call for help—was trapped by both a crowd induced panic attack and the unending press of humanity. I had pulled my cane in and was standing still as the crowd broke like a wave around me. I finally had to be rescued by one of the roving convention hosts.

I have tried to talk about this stuff at conventions. There was some disability programming a couple of years ago, panels I pushed for about Disability in SF. Sadly, even this was problematic as Convergence put us in a space that was too small and difficult to access for our disabled fans in wheelchairs.

Last year, it was bad enough that I simply couldn't move around on my own. If I had to be on programming or some other event someone had to be with me, helping me as a sighted guide to move around the convention. It's the only convention I attend where I need a sighted guide, and I hate it. Hate the loss of independence. Hate that I have to take someone's time away from the convention because I can't function anymore: hated that if I wasn't being led around the convention from one programming item to the next, I had to retreat to the room because I can't managed to walk around the con on my own. If I was going back this year—if I ever go back—it is obvious I'll need a personal care assistant to help me with Convergence. And I hate that idea as well. I know. I know I'm a blind broken gimp and I shouldn't be so reticent to get the help I need and can legally ask for, but it takes all the enjoyment of the con away.

When it came time to try and get a room for Convergence, I was already thinking this might be my last year. Then came the day of trying to get a room; a day of more stress and frustration as once again the system crashed, some people seemed to have access to a backdoor and then all the room in the main hotel were gone, despite that fact I had done everything right and in a timely manner. It wasn't until this last weekend that we even knew if we could get a room in the hotel. By then, the decision to stop going to Convergence had been made.

I realized this year I was hating the idea of going to any of the 7 to 10 book festivals and conventions I attend every year. Not just Convergence, but all of them. That I just wanted to stay home all year. Hiding. The thought of going to conventions had me wanting to curl up with my confused cat and hide under the bed-covers. After talking it over with several people, I figured out it was just Convergence. I was so stressed at the very idea of dealing with Convergence that it was spoiling all the other conventions for me. Convergence comes at the end of my convention season and having it lurking out there in the horizon makes me anxious and angry and takes all the fun out of the other conventions.

A part of me hates to stop attending, especially this year. The theme is Urban Fantasy, which seems a slam-dunk for me as an author. I am a freakin' Urban Fantasy Author fer-cryin'-out-loud. I have two new books I haven't tried to sell at Convergence. Scott Lynch, one of the Guests of Honor, is my friend and another GoH, Emma Bull, is someone I like quite a bit. It has always been my best convention for sales. To walk away from such a great marketing opportunity seems silly.

And I don't have anything personally against Convergence. It is the convention it is, and thousands of people seem to enjoy being squeezed into the hotel with thousands of other con-goers. For many people, this is their favorite event of the year. Their vacation. The biggest bestest badest party ever.

Bless them. Bless them all.

But I just can't. I can't even.

Just the thought of Convergence makes me exhausted.

So it is time to stop.

And now I feel nothing but relief.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Originally posted at michaelmerriam.net. You can comment here or there.
mmerriam: (Blind)
I found myself staring at new shelf in the garage, not really seeing it. On some levels this is not a surprise, given my condition, but…

Beloved Spouse pointed out the addition to our garage to me, and all I could do was stare at the space for several minutes, trying to process the change. I could see the new shelves and all the stuff on the new shelves and all the stuff that no longer rested on the garage floor, but it was wasn't really real.

Okay, here's the thing for any of you who are new around here: I'm blind.

Yeah, I still have some fairly good forward vision. Yes, I present so well that it is easy to forget that I'm blind, but I am legally blind. I have 7 degrees of peripheral vision. A normal person should have 140 to 180 degrees of peripheral vision. To get a sense of what my world is like, do this: make a soft fist, leaving a space about the size of a quarter in each fist that you can look through. Now look through that as if you were looking through quarter-sized binoculars.

This is what I see, give or take a little.

So what happens is that my brain tries to fill in the dead space. It remembers the things I have seen in that space on a regular basis and supplies them, sending a picture to my brain, as if I could see the spaces where I actually can't see. But the thing is, I actually can't see that space. This is why I get surprised when I look over to find someone in a space where my brain thinks they shouldn't be. This is why moving furniture is hard on Michael. This why I don't leave large totes, bags, or luggage in the floor: not only because I can't freaking see it, but my brain will lie to me like a lying thing that tells lies like a liar, and assure me there is nothing there. My brain once swore up and down that there was a squirrel climbing the wall inside a coffee shop I sometimes frequent. Why? Because there was a squirrel climbing a tree painted on the wall, and I see squirrels in my yard all the time climbing trees, so...

In the case of the garage, my brain kept trying to tell me that everything was the same as I was use seeing it. That the shop vac was here, and the firewood piled haphazardly on the floor in the corner, and various odds and ends were stacked in milk crates, and the tent pavilion was in the middle of the garage floor, and…

My brain was convinced that the garage looked just like it has for weeks. My eyes could see the cleaner, neater garage, but my brain refused to register the change, and in fact fought to superimpose how it thought I should perceive the garage according to what it remembered over how the garage really looked.

Brains. I'm just saying.

This is what I live with. Every day. Just thought I'd share.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Originally posted at michaelmerriam.net. You can comment here or there.

Lost

Jul. 15th, 2013 01:34 pm
mmerriam: (Blind)
"Look Out!"

My wife, as I nearly crashed our Mazda into a cluster of orange traffic barrels.

I was lost. I had taken a wrong exit onto an unfamiliar bit of highway, one I couldn't drive from memory, careening barely controlled through that favorite of Minnesota seasons – road construction. At night. In the rain. With four people's lives in my hands. I was behind the wheel of our car long past the time my blind ass had any business still driving.

Angry with myself, the world, the Minnesota Department of Transportation, and the unfairness of my deteriorating condition, I pulled off at the next exit and turned the wheel over to my wife. That time.

"Stop!"

My wife again, as I almost plowed into a half-dozen fashionable young women who had no idea they had nearly all perished at the hands of a sensible car driven by a blind idiot. Her warning allowed me to hit the brakes, averting what would have a tragedy with mere seconds to spare.

This time I wasn't lost: though I was at 50th and France, which for us was pretty close. This time, I kept driving, trying to hide my shaking hands and pounding heart – I kept driving... all the way to the retina center.

At the clinic, things did not go well. I could tell it wasn't going well by the way the nice optician was reacting. “You’re doing great! Doing great!” she kept repeating over and over. I was not doing great. In fact, it became painfully obvious during the exam that things were worse than I had thought. I suppose you learn little tricks to compensate for vision loss, but it’s more difficult to fool sophisticated diagnostic techniques.

But I would not accept my disability. I kept talking to my wife about how we needed to buy a second car. When the doctor inquired if I had any question, I didn't want to ask, but the look on my beloved's face—and the fact that she was making steering wheel motions—was too much to ignore. I asked the doctor how much longer I would be able to drive.

He looked horrified. "I think that it is very important that you do not."

And that was the end. My wife drove us home. On the way, she made me read a street sign. A large street sign. The kind that hangs over the highway. I stuck my head out of the window of the car and as it passed directly over my head, I managed to read out Duluth Street. The state sent a polite letter, revoking my license. I had lost the ability and the privilege to operate a motor vehicle. Public transportation and my butt in the passenger seat was my new reality.

It sucked, but I had to make the transition. I refused to become one of the many disabled people who shut themselves away, hide from the world. And any time I started to get frustrated on long bus rides, I would remember a terrifying encounter at my local grocery store.

I was walking to the store and found myself following this sweet looking little old lady, who had just climbed out of her HUGE Buick. I'm talking a small boat. So I follow her into the store and she stops, peers at another woman just inside the door, gets right up in this woman's face, peers, squints and finally says, "Lois, is that you?"

The loss of mobility and independence was frightening and difficult, but handing in the keys was best thing that could have happened to me. I was no longer lost on roads I was attempting to drive by memory or by following the taillights in front of me. I was no long a danger to myself, to my passengers, and to the general public at large. I was no longer afraid that someone was going to die because I was too scared and too proud to do what was smart and safe.

In the end, the only thing I really lost was my fear of the darkness stalking me and the changes it would bring. And all that fear, well, that's not too much to have lost, now is it?

Originally posted at michaelmerriam.net. You can comment here or there.
mmerriam: (Old Lynx)
I am pleased to announce that I have signed the contract, and my novel Old Blood's Fate will be published by Artema Press. We have a very aggressive timeline, planning to have the book ready for sale by the end of March. The editor plans to have my edits to me by this weekend. I plan to complete them as quickly as humanly possible.

Here is the cover art!09 Old Blood's Fate

For those of you playing our home game, you might remember Old Blood's Fate as the first novel I wrote, finishing the first draft in 2005. It was big and bloated and broken, and I didn't have the skills and tools to make it right. I've spent the last 8 or so years tinkering with it, rewriting it again and again as I hone my craft and develop my abilities as a writer, cutting it down from a monstrous 160,000 words to 85, 000. I ripped out entire plot lines, killed a variety of subplots, and took out a whole slew of characters until I finally had something I could be pleased to put in front of readers.

From the Publisher:
As a story that entwines Native American folklore with the lives of two extraordinary mortals, the plot leaves nothing less at stake than the fate of human reality--not to mention human existence.

Look for Old Bloods Fate in hardcover, softcover, and ebook, forthcoming in March, 2013.


If I said I was pleased, it would be an understatement.

Originally posted at michaelmerriam.net. You can comment here or there.
mmerriam: (Blind)
I will be a day performer at this years Tellabration! event. I will be part of the "Personal Stories" track and will be sharing the Saturday, November 26th 4pm - 5 pm slot with Lane McKiernan. I'll be doing a show called "No Gimps Allowed," about being disabled and becoming "invisible" in the able-bodied world.

http://northstarstorytelling.org/tellabration-2011/
mmerriam: (Blind)
I will be a day performer at this years Tellabration! event. I will be part of the "Personal Stories" track and will be sharing the Saturday, November 26th 4pm - 5 pm slot with Lane McKiernan. I'll be doing a show called "No Gimps Allowed," about being disabled and becoming "invisible" in the able-bodied world.

http://northstarstorytelling.org/tellabration-2011/
mmerriam: (Default)
Line edits on Last Car to Annwn Station are finished and returned to Editor Melissa at Carina Press. It should be a couple of weeks before the CEM arrives. I have a week to finish that, then the manuscript will be complete and delivered. There will be a final proof galley, then at last a book. I can’t wait.

My reading at DreamHaven Books was a success. I started off reading too fast, but got my footing and by the time I read from Last Car to Annwn Station I had settled in. Everyone seemed to enjoy the reading, and several folks said they are looking forward to the novel coming out this summer. We had a great crowd, 41 people by our count.

Super Bowl party was fun, with about 20 people at my house, some of whom cared about the game, many of whom did not, and everyone having fun. There was lots a good food and great company.

Had a nice night out with some other local writer folks. Good conversation, goods people, and a smashing beer and scotch selection at The Muddy Pig in St. Paul.

Speaking of food, we have a new Japanese restaurant in Hopkins, Aji. There is nice review here: http://www.weeklynews.com/main.asp?Search=1&ArticleID=8267&SectionID=49&SubSectionID=110&S=1

We went with some friends and found everything cooked to perfection and the sushi bar well presented, with a good selection of excellent and flavorful sushi.

We went to see Bill W. and Dr. Bob (http://www.illusiontheater.org/events/bill-w-dr-bob) at the Illusion Theatre in downtown Minneapolis. This show is well worth seeing, and the discussion after the show with the director and actors was great fun.

The MinnSpec meeting today was a presentation about giving presentations and being on panels. There was some really good stuff, though I feel like we focused a little too much on PowerPoint stuff. I know some people really dig the PowerPoint, but I don’t use it. There was also good discussion about what to do in difficult situations (a cellphone goes off, crying children, that one person in the audience who tries to hijack the panel, that one expert in the audience who asks you the one question you don’t know the answer to, that sort of thing). We talked about different things you can do the make your public speaking better, including joining Toastmaster and taking some basic acting and voice classes. Over all a very positive meeting, plus we figured out the topics for the next couple of meetings.

Getting gear up for Con of the North this weekend. I will be spending my birthday at the Con.

I sent in my panel picks for CONvergence. We shall see what happens.

Speaking of panels, I have my schedule for MarsCon:

Friday, March 4:
6:00-6:45 PM--Krushenko's/Concierge (Room 1332)
Fiction Reading: Michael Merriam

Saturday, March 5:
6:00-6:45 PM--Re(a)d Mars/Taylor (2nd Floor)
Panel: The Woods Are Lovely
How do we create modern fairytales and myths? How do we tap into the primal emotions of fairytales in a modern era?
Michael Merriam, mod.; PMF Johnson, Naomi Kritzer

Sunday, March 6:
11:00-11:45 AM--Re(a)d Mars
Panel: Ask a Writer
Always wanted to know how a novel is born? How does a writer structure their day? Is it all glittering parties and intelligent company? Come ask a panel of working writers anything!
Michael Merriam, mod.; Roy C. Booth, Catherine Lundoff, Anna Waltz

1:00-1:45 PM--Krushenko's
Panel: The Western as Fantasy
Myths about the Old West began before the West was old, making it one of the first shared worlds in American culture. We'll discuss the rise and fall of the Old West mythology, and how it has influenced and lent its energy to current genres including fantasy and science fiction.
David Christenson, mod.; Eric M. Heideman, Michael Merriam

2:00-2:45 PM--Krushenko's
Panel: Writing in a Series: Harmonies and Discords
Writers who have done multiple novels or stories about continuing characters and/or a linked world share their experiences, positive or negative, and their advice to aspiring series writers.
Michael Merriam, mod.; Lois McMaster Bujold, Naomi Kritzer

I’ve acquired shooting scripts from several televisions shows and one from a motion picture. I plan to read and study these, watch several episodes of Being Human, Eureka and Warehouse 13, and then create spec scripts. I am also outlining a feature movie script.

My counselor at State Services for the Blind has, in support of my quest for a part-time job, hooked me up with Lifetracks in St. Paul. My worker there has already sent out my resume to a potential employer that looks to be a good fit for me, except it might be too much travel by bus. Still, if they can find me a possible position before I’ve ever had a meeting with them, I’m impressed.

Tomorrow night I will cook Valentine dinner for my Bunnee. We stay in and avoid the crowds on Valentine's Day. There will be good food and small gifts.

Also, still sick. This is the start of week three. I suppose I should go see a doctor.
mmerriam: (Default)
Line edits on Last Car to Annwn Station are finished and returned to Editor Melissa at Carina Press. It should be a couple of weeks before the CEM arrives. I have a week to finish that, then the manuscript will be complete and delivered. There will be a final proof galley, then at last a book. I can’t wait.

My reading at DreamHaven Books was a success. I started off reading too fast, but got my footing and by the time I read from Last Car to Annwn Station I had settled in. Everyone seemed to enjoy the reading, and several folks said they are looking forward to the novel coming out this summer. We had a great crowd, 41 people by our count.

Super Bowl party was fun, with about 20 people at my house, some of whom cared about the game, many of whom did not, and everyone having fun. There was lots a good food and great company.

Had a nice night out with some other local writer folks. Good conversation, goods people, and a smashing beer and scotch selection at The Muddy Pig in St. Paul.

Speaking of food, we have a new Japanese restaurant in Hopkins, Aji. There is nice review here: http://www.weeklynews.com/main.asp?Search=1&ArticleID=8267&SectionID=49&SubSectionID=110&S=1

We went with some friends and found everything cooked to perfection and the sushi bar well presented, with a good selection of excellent and flavorful sushi.

We went to see Bill W. and Dr. Bob (http://www.illusiontheater.org/events/bill-w-dr-bob) at the Illusion Theatre in downtown Minneapolis. This show is well worth seeing, and the discussion after the show with the director and actors was great fun.

The MinnSpec meeting today was a presentation about giving presentations and being on panels. There was some really good stuff, though I feel like we focused a little too much on PowerPoint stuff. I know some people really dig the PowerPoint, but I don’t use it. There was also good discussion about what to do in difficult situations (a cellphone goes off, crying children, that one person in the audience who tries to hijack the panel, that one expert in the audience who asks you the one question you don’t know the answer to, that sort of thing). We talked about different things you can do the make your public speaking better, including joining Toastmaster and taking some basic acting and voice classes. Over all a very positive meeting, plus we figured out the topics for the next couple of meetings.

Getting gear up for Con of the North this weekend. I will be spending my birthday at the Con.

I sent in my panel picks for CONvergence. We shall see what happens.

Speaking of panels, I have my schedule for MarsCon:

Friday, March 4:
6:00-6:45 PM--Krushenko's/Concierge (Room 1332)
Fiction Reading: Michael Merriam

Saturday, March 5:
6:00-6:45 PM--Re(a)d Mars/Taylor (2nd Floor)
Panel: The Woods Are Lovely
How do we create modern fairytales and myths? How do we tap into the primal emotions of fairytales in a modern era?
Michael Merriam, mod.; PMF Johnson, Naomi Kritzer

Sunday, March 6:
11:00-11:45 AM--Re(a)d Mars
Panel: Ask a Writer
Always wanted to know how a novel is born? How does a writer structure their day? Is it all glittering parties and intelligent company? Come ask a panel of working writers anything!
Michael Merriam, mod.; Roy C. Booth, Catherine Lundoff, Anna Waltz

1:00-1:45 PM--Krushenko's
Panel: The Western as Fantasy
Myths about the Old West began before the West was old, making it one of the first shared worlds in American culture. We'll discuss the rise and fall of the Old West mythology, and how it has influenced and lent its energy to current genres including fantasy and science fiction.
David Christenson, mod.; Eric M. Heideman, Michael Merriam

2:00-2:45 PM--Krushenko's
Panel: Writing in a Series: Harmonies and Discords
Writers who have done multiple novels or stories about continuing characters and/or a linked world share their experiences, positive or negative, and their advice to aspiring series writers.
Michael Merriam, mod.; Lois McMaster Bujold, Naomi Kritzer

I’ve acquired shooting scripts from several televisions shows and one from a motion picture. I plan to read and study these, watch several episodes of Being Human, Eureka and Warehouse 13, and then create spec scripts. I am also outlining a feature movie script.

My counselor at State Services for the Blind has, in support of my quest for a part-time job, hooked me up with Lifetracks in St. Paul. My worker there has already sent out my resume to a potential employer that looks to be a good fit for me, except it might be too much travel by bus. Still, if they can find me a possible position before I’ve ever had a meeting with them, I’m impressed.

Tomorrow night I will cook Valentine dinner for my Bunnee. We stay in and avoid the crowds on Valentine's Day. There will be good food and small gifts.

Also, still sick. This is the start of week three. I suppose I should go see a doctor.
mmerriam: (Default)
I've had my head down and pushing hard trying to complete this draft of Dead Brew, aka The Monster-Hunting Barista novel. It is still too short for comfort, coming in at 77,000 words, but it is what it is and I have no idea how to add more to it at this point. Even short of the industry more or less standard 85K to 100K for an UF novel, I think I can polish it down and sell it.

While I wait for Dead Brew to spend a little time on the back burner, I plan to return to the Steampunk Spy-Thriller, tentatively titled The Curious Case of the Jeweled Horn, and finish the rewrites which has been percolating in the back of my mind for the last few weeks.

I really wanted to finish this rewrite pass on Dead Brew now, because we have family coming up from Oklahoma for Christmas, arriving this Wednesday and leaving next Monday morning, so I figure I won't get a lot of time to work. Which may translate into more blogging over the holidays, but no promises. Of course, I say that, so something will mug me and demand to be written.

I re-signed up for services with MN State Services for the Blind. I'm still looking for part-time work, something 15 to 24 hours a week to help bring in a little extra income while [livejournal.com profile] careswen finishes graduate school, completes her licensure requirements, and spins up her practice. That means after the first of the year, I am going to have to devote a little more energy to the job hunting, but SSB will be assigning me a service that specializes in placement of people with disabilities in the workforce. I am cautiously optimistic on this front.

Now, I shall make a list of the things I need to get done around the house over the next two days.
mmerriam: (Default)
I've had my head down and pushing hard trying to complete this draft of Dead Brew, aka The Monster-Hunting Barista novel. It is still too short for comfort, coming in at 77,000 words, but it is what it is and I have no idea how to add more to it at this point. Even short of the industry more or less standard 85K to 100K for an UF novel, I think I can polish it down and sell it.

While I wait for Dead Brew to spend a little time on the back burner, I plan to return to the Steampunk Spy-Thriller, tentatively titled The Curious Case of the Jeweled Horn, and finish the rewrites which has been percolating in the back of my mind for the last few weeks.

I really wanted to finish this rewrite pass on Dead Brew now, because we have family coming up from Oklahoma for Christmas, arriving this Wednesday and leaving next Monday morning, so I figure I won't get a lot of time to work. Which may translate into more blogging over the holidays, but no promises. Of course, I say that, so something will mug me and demand to be written.

I re-signed up for services with MN State Services for the Blind. I'm still looking for part-time work, something 15 to 24 hours a week to help bring in a little extra income while [livejournal.com profile] careswen finishes graduate school, completes her licensure requirements, and spins up her practice. That means after the first of the year, I am going to have to devote a little more energy to the job hunting, but SSB will be assigning me a service that specializes in placement of people with disabilities in the workforce. I am cautiously optimistic on this front.

Now, I shall make a list of the things I need to get done around the house over the next two days.
mmerriam: (Default)
It went quickly. Was a bit strange being awake, alert, and able to see while someone operated in my eye. Lots of interesting lights, colors, and shadows.
mmerriam: (Default)
It went quickly. Was a bit strange being awake, alert, and able to see while someone operated in my eye. Lots of interesting lights, colors, and shadows.
mmerriam: (Coffee)
It's not that there has not been things I've wanted to post about, it's that I've been a little overwhelmed lately, struggling for time and focus.

In Which Michael Yammers On About Everything On His Mind )
mmerriam: (Coffee)
It's not that there has not been things I've wanted to post about, it's that I've been a little overwhelmed lately, struggling for time and focus.

In Which Michael Yammers On About Everything On His Mind )

Cataract

Oct. 30th, 2009 08:31 pm
mmerriam: (Blind)
Things went about as well at the ophthalmologist's as could be expected. My cataract surgery is scheduled for early January 2010, but I have plenty of other medical hoops still to jump through beforehand. In other news, I've lost my mind and agreed to be awake for the eye surgery. They'll use a topical anesthetic to deaden the eye and drugs to keep me sedated.

Cataract

Oct. 30th, 2009 08:31 pm
mmerriam: (Blind)
Things went about as well at the ophthalmologist's as could be expected. My cataract surgery is scheduled for early January 2010, but I have plenty of other medical hoops still to jump through beforehand. In other news, I've lost my mind and agreed to be awake for the eye surgery. They'll use a topical anesthetic to deaden the eye and drugs to keep me sedated.
mmerriam: (Blind)
I attended several SF/F/H conventions this year, all local here in the Twin Cities where I live (we have a plethora of local SF/F/H conventions) along with one gaming convention. I go to conventions for a variety of reasons: To see my friends and to be around other folks who share my enjoyment of SF/F/H in literature, movies, games, or other media. I go to support my friends who are professional authors by attending their readings and hawking their books and to get my own name, face, and fiction in front of the local public. I go to just enjoy myself.

It was a tough convention season for me this year. Each convention presents different challenges for this blind fan and writer, and at times those challenges overwhelmed me. The larger the convention, the greater the challenges, but even small conventions can present me with difficult situations.

For example, small conventions typically mean small consuites: Small, narrow, crowded, hard to get around in consuites. I usually end up sitting somewhere and asking my wife to bring me things, but this is sub-optimal for several reasons. For one, I still hate to be a "bother" to anyone, and would rather sit silently than risk breaking up a brilliant conversation because I need help getting through the crowds to the soda. And I know that's a personal choice on my part. I know.

And crowds. This is a fact of life at larger conventions, but it's something I struggle to deal with, to the point of sometimes getting so overwhelmed that I give up and go up to the room to hide. Now granted, I'm an introvert and at conventions I try to be "on" as much as possible--smiling, chatting, being social--which is exhausting to me. So I dive back into the room to recharge. But the crowds, oh the crowds, they are probably my greatest challenge.

Because people at conventions are talking and visiting and looking at all the shiny, and they don't actually pay much attention to their surroundings. Now, you'd think being well over six feet tall and wielding a long white cane would be a clue, but no. Any moment I'm in the hallways and trying to get around under my own power (as opposed to being assisted) the journey is fraught with peril, near-misses, people tripping over the cane, and accidental body-checking into walls. It is especially bad with small children, who tend to dash one direction while looking the other. This forces me to try and be extra slow and careful, hyper-aware of my surroundings. It's exhausting.

Dealer's rooms are another adventure. The same problems as above, now with bonus narrow aisles and displays lying in ambush, waiting for the hapless blind guy to stumble into them. Going into the dealer's room without assistance is nigh impossible.

The final thing the crowds tend to do is "blind" me. I'm already struggling with not being able to see much of anything in a rapidly changing environment, but the noise--especially around the party rooms (which I've learned to avoid)--basically leaves me without my other primary way of telling me what is happening around me. If I can't see clearly, and I can't hear clearly, what chance do I have? I've had to drop out of some things I wanted to do, simply because it became too hard on me in those situations to deal with the environment. There were moments where I quite literally froze in place because I lost my bearings and could not navigate my surroundings safely. It is a frustrating thing.

There was some disability programming at a couple of conventions this year, panels I pushed for about Disability in SF, which also touched on being a disabled fan (a panel I had taken part in at a convention a couple of years ago). Sadly, even this was problematic, as one of the conventions put us in a space that was too small and nearly inaccessible for our disabled fans in wheelchairs. And once I was in the room, I was stuck. There was no way I'd have been able to maneuver out of that room without help, and even then it would have been tough. Good thing I was safely ensconced on the panel!

And elevators: This is a real problem at larger conventions, where the elevators are few and broken down half the time (ask me about the night I climbed 22 flights of stairs). When the elevators are slow and not always working--placing them at a premium--and people want to get up their rooms to change for an event, or get to a room party, or whatever, all courtesy is tossed out the door. I've had to stand and wait through up to eight cycles of elevators because once one opens and clears, the faster, younger, able bodied people will happily charge forward and cram into the thing before those of us with canes or chairs can even start forward, squeezing us out in their mad dash to get aboard. Tough luck, gimp.

It's a wonder I even bother sometimes.

But I bother because I really want to visit with and see the people I want to see. I want to sit in the bar or consuite and talk with my friends, especially those I only see at conventions. I go because some of the panels were valuable to me when I was starting out as a writer and new to fandom, and I like to be on those panels now, paying it forward, encouraging new writers and fans (I especially like talking with teens about writing and literature and fandom. They're so enthusiastic, lacking all the world-weary jadedness so common in their adult counterparts).

I have learned tricks to help myself, like getting someplace early and scouting it out, figuring out the best routes, the best ways to get up on the raised platform to the panel table, how to get to various crucial locations in the convention. Since large-print programs are rarely offered and the program pages on the room doors and boards are sometimes in smaller fonts, I try to memorize my schedule and all the things I want to, though this can fall victim to last minute changes, leaving me wondering where the go for that panel I was suppose to be on.

The solution seems simple: Stop going to larger conventions and always make sure I have someone available to help me access the convention. I can tell you both of these answers are sub-optimal for me. I know I'd be missing some great stuff by avoiding the larger conventions, and I simply can't rely on having people to help me all the damned time.

I don't have the answers (yet), but I know I'll keep going to conventions of various sizes, trying to figure out the best and easiest ways to deal with these challenges. Because one thing I am is determined to do is this: I won't stop living my life because I'm blind. And conventions, both professionally and personally, are part of my life.
mmerriam: (Blind)
I attended several SF/F/H conventions this year, all local here in the Twin Cities where I live (we have a plethora of local SF/F/H conventions) along with one gaming convention. I go to conventions for a variety of reasons: To see my friends and to be around other folks who share my enjoyment of SF/F/H in literature, movies, games, or other media. I go to support my friends who are professional authors by attending their readings and hawking their books and to get my own name, face, and fiction in front of the local public. I go to just enjoy myself.

It was a tough convention season for me this year. Each convention presents different challenges for this blind fan and writer, and at times those challenges overwhelmed me. The larger the convention, the greater the challenges, but even small conventions can present me with difficult situations.

For example, small conventions typically mean small consuites: Small, narrow, crowded, hard to get around in consuites. I usually end up sitting somewhere and asking my wife to bring me things, but this is sub-optimal for several reasons. For one, I still hate to be a "bother" to anyone, and would rather sit silently than risk breaking up a brilliant conversation because I need help getting through the crowds to the soda. And I know that's a personal choice on my part. I know.

And crowds. This is a fact of life at larger conventions, but it's something I struggle to deal with, to the point of sometimes getting so overwhelmed that I give up and go up to the room to hide. Now granted, I'm an introvert and at conventions I try to be "on" as much as possible, smiling, chatting, being social, which is exhausting to me. So I dive back into the room to recharge. But the crowds, oh the crowds, they are probably my greatest challenge.

Because people at conventions are talking and visiting and looking at all the shiny, and they don't actually pay much attention to their surroundings. Now, you'd think being well over six feet tall and wielding a long white cane would be a clue, but no. Any moment I'm in the hallways and trying to get around under my own power (as opposed to being assisted) the journey is fraught with peril, near-misses, people tripping over the cane, and accidental body-checking into walls. It is especially bad with small children, who tend to dash one direction while looking the other. This forces me to try and be extra slow and careful, hyper-aware of my surroundings. It's exhausting.

Dealer's rooms are another adventure. The same problems as above, now with bonus narrow aisles and displays lying in ambush, waiting for the hapless blind guy to stumble into them. Going into the dealer's room without assistance is neigh impossible.

The final thing the crowds tend to do is "blind" me. I'm already struggling with not being able to see much of anything in a rapidly changing environment, but the noise--especially around the party rooms (which I've learned to avoid)--basically leaves me without my other primary way of telling me what is happening around me. If I can't see clearly, and I can't hear clearly, what chance do I have? I've had to drop out of some things I wanted to do, simply because it became too hard on me in those situations to deal with the environment. There were moments where I quite literally froze in place because I lost my bearings and could not navigate my surroundings safely. It is a frustrating thing.

There was some disability programming at a couple of conventions this year, panels I pushed for about Disability in SF, which also touched on being a disabled fan (a panel I had taken part in at a convention a couple of years ago). Sadly, even this was problematic, as one of the conventions put us in a space that was too small and nearly inaccessible for our disabled fans in wheelchairs. And once I was in the room, I was stuck. There was no way I'd have been able to maneuver out of that room without help, and even then it would have been tough. Good thing I was safely ensconced on the panel!

And elevators: This is a real problem at larger conventions, where the elevators are few and broken down half the time (ask me about the night I climbed 22 flights of stairs). When the elevators are slow and not always working--placing them at a premium--and people want to get up their rooms to change for an event, or get to a room party, or whatever, all courtesy is tossed out the door. I've had to stand and wait through up to eight cycles of elevators because once one opens and clears, the faster, younger, able bodied people will happily charge forward and cram into the thing before those of us with canes or chairs can even start forward, squeezing us out in their mad dash to get aboard. Tough luck, gimp.

It's a wonder I even bother sometimes.

But I bother because I really want to visit with and see the people I want to see. I want to sit in the bar or consuite and talk with my friends, especially those I only see at conventions. I go because some of the panels were valuable to me when I was starting out as a writer and new to fandom, and I like to be on those panels now, paying it forward, encouraging new writers and fans (I especially like talking with teens about writing and literature and fandom. They're so enthusiastic, lacking all the world-weary jadedness so common in their adult counterparts).

I have learned tricks to help myself, like getting someplace early and scouting it out, figuring out the best routes, the best ways to get up on the raised platform to the panel table, how to get to various crucial locations in the convention. Since large-print or programs are rarely offered and the program pages on the rooms doors and boards are sometimes in smaller fonts, I try to memorize my schedule and all the things I want to, though this can fall victim to last minute changes, leaving me wondering where the go for that panel I was suppose to be on.

The solution seems simple: Stop going to larger conventions and always make sure I have someone available to help me access the convention. I can tell you both of these answers are sub-optimal for me. I know I'd be missing some great stuff by avoiding the larger conventions, and I simply can't rely on having people to help me all the damned time.

I don't have the answers (yet), but I know I'll keep going to conventions of various sizes, trying to figure out the best and easiest ways to deal with these challenges. Because one thing I am is determined to do is this: I won't stop living my life because I'm blind. And conventions, both professionally and personally, are part of my life.

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